Hurricane Irma's fierce winds ripped into the northern coast of Cuba Friday night as the massive storm made landfall in Cuba's Camaguey archipelago as a Category 5 storm.
Irma, which has sustained winds of 160 mph as of 11 p.m. Friday, regaining its Cat 5 status, has left a trail of devastation and death in much of the Caribbean as it advanced toward South Florida.
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center say the storm's wind speeds will increase after Irma passes Cuba then slips into the extremely warm waters near the Keys.
Irma is expected to maintain sustained winds of 160 mph and once again be a Category 5 hurricane by the time it makes US landfall on Sunday.
"Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe," the National Weather Service tweeted.
Hurricane warnings have been issued from Central to Southern Florida and will continue to expand northward as the storm continues head through the peninsula.
Hurricane Irma Timeline
The storm continues to go on a westerly path possibly grazing parts of the northern coast of Cuba with catastrophic winds, rain and storm surge through Saturday morning.
By Saturday midday, it is expected to make a right turn into the very warm waters of the Florida Strait before making landfall in either the Florida Keys or the peninsula.
The official forecast by the Hurricane Center has been bringing a westerly trend directly striking the Keys before making a landfall in the peninsula somewhere between Fort Meyers and the Everglades.
Despite this, the east coast by no means is not escaping Irma’s wrath. This is a huge storm stretching 500 miles in diameter with the destructive hurricane force winds extended some 60 to 80 miles away from the eye.
Southern Florida may start to feel its effects as early as late Friday night with the outermost rain bands approaching. By Saturday morning, Tropical Storm Force winds move in. In Miami winds should start to turn gusty in the afternoon along with the rain becoming steadier and heavier.
Hurricane force winds will move into Saturday night into Sunday morning for Central and Southern Florida as the storm makes landfall. The brunt of the storm in Southern Florida will continue through at least Sunday midday before conditions improve for the region.
As Irma makes landfall, seas are expected to rise some 6-12 feet across Southwestern Florida. While not as high, the Eastern Coast stretching from Jupiter down to Miami and the Keys could get around 5-10 feet of a storm surge. Irma is also expected to bring a tremendous amount of rainfall. Not only will coastal areas get pounded by the surge of water from the ocean, estimates as high as 15 inches of torrential rain will put areas inland under water.
Through Sunday afternoon into Monday, the storm will gradually weaken to a tropical storm while the storm continues its path over north central Florida — with wind, rain and possible tornadoes are being a factor.