Georgia orders evacuation of Savannah, coastline as Irma nears

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Hurricane Irma could make landfall in southern SC as a strong category 2 or 3 hurricane, according to the latest update on Thursday by state forecasters.

Tornadoes and heavy rainfall are expected, with the portion of the storm that will make its way over SC.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 220 miles.

SC ordered evacuations of Hilton Head Island and six other barrier islands.

As Hurricane Irma moved north away from Florida, the city became an important hub not only for storm preparations, but for those seeking refuge. The eye of the hurricane passed just north of the island, leading to winds of nearly 300km/h and 30ft waves.

Drivers are encouraged to stay off the roads and, if someone has to be out, people are advised to slow down to at least half your normal speed. Power was cut off in about 70 per cent of the island.

The hurricane continued to pass over the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday with the British overseas territory of Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and parts of Cuba next in the storm's path.

"We hope we don't need them in North Carolina, but they may be needed in other states", Cooper said. But because of the size of the hurricane, Florida's east coast remains in danger, including from storm surges that will easily overwhelm some areas.

Meteorologists say high clouds from approaching Hurricane Irma should begin filtering into the Rock Hill area by Sunday afternoon, with off-and-on rain arriving Monday morning. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.

Georgia Power Family Services To help its employees focus on safely restoring power for customers and relieve concerns about their own families, Georgia Power has also activated its Family Services volunteers, who are preparing to deploy to areas impacted by Hurricane Irma in anticipation of employee assistance requests. "This is a very serious, incredibly powerful storm". "He told me, 'Thank you sir, thank you". "I recommend and strongly urge all our residents and visitors to leave Miami Beach". "We didn't know it was going to be as long as it is, looking at the forecast", Saunders said.

"We just want everybody to be safe. This isn't about devastation, it's about evacuation".

Nick Petro with the National Weather Service in Raleigh says heavy rain and inland wind damage could result in extended power outages, with possible mudslides in the mountains.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned citizens not to take a chance and to expect additional evacuations. Everyone should continue to monitor the storm through the weekend for any changes to the forecast. I've got more room than I can use.

Irma is the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured.

The storm was upgraded to a category two, with winds of 105 miles per hour.

"We learned the hard way hurricanes aren't just coastal storms, and they can have significant inland impacts, like with Hugo making landfall north of Charleston and inland territories experiencing the impact as far west as Charlotte, and then past year with Matthew - a Category 1 storm that brought catastrophic rainfall".

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