A Dominican residing in Florida says that many people have heeded the warnings and have evacuated ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma.

Radio personality Nigel Francis says that the entire state will be shut down by 9 this evening.

A Mandatory evacuation of Florida has been ordered by United States authorities.

Residents of the Miami area and the Florida Keys streamed north in packed vehicles Friday, anxiously rushing to dodge Hurricane Irma as the deadly storm took aim at the state after devastating the Caribbean.

The dramatic mass exodus from South Florida could turn into one of the largest evacuations in US history, CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen said. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are home to about 6 million people combined.

But the clock is ticking for those who haven’t left yet, officials warned.

The National Hurricane Center predicted late Friday afternoon that Irma could strengthen into a Category 5 storm again before it hits the Florida Keys this weekend.

Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, has hit the Caribbean, with officials warning of its “potentially catastrophic” effects. The category five hurricane, the highest possible level, has sustained wind speeds reaching 300km/h (185mph).

It first hit Antigua and Barbuda, before moving on to Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin.

Hurricane Irma lashed Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas as it drove toward Florida on Friday. In the US, Florida’s Key West area has ordered a mandatory evacuation.

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