It turned out, moreover, that Hurricane Irma would be the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, peaking at Category 5 status. On September 6, 2017, it reached land on the island of Barbuda; there, it maintained 185 mph winds for 37 hours. The strongest recorded storm before Irma had only kept up its high-speed gusts for 24 hours.
And although Irma had lost a bit of steam at the time that it approached Florida, it was nevertheless still a strong Category 4 storm. The southwest corner of the Sunshine State was in particular danger, as the hurricane’s projected path headed straight in that direction.
In fact, Florida Governor Rick Scott implored locals to drop everything and leave as the storm rapidly approached. “If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now,” he said at a news conference on September 9, a day before the storm made landfall in the Florida Keys. “Do not wait. Evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour. You need to go right now.”