All Florida residents 'should be prepared to evacuate': governor

Pedro Marti covers the windows of his home with plywood at the Sunnyside Trailer Park during preparations for Hurricane Irma in West Miami, Florida, on September 8, 2017 (AFP Photo/Saul LOEB) (AFP)

Miami (AFP) - Florida Governor Rick Scott warned Friday that all of the state's 20 million inhabitants should be prepared to evacuate as Hurricane Irma bears down for a direct hit on the southern US state.

"The storm is powerful and deadly," Scott said. "Do not ignore evacuation orders.

"Remember, we can rebuild your home, we can't rebuild your life," he said. "All Floridians should be prepared to evacuate soon."

Irma was downgraded overnight from a Category Five to a Category Four storm but it is still considered extremely dangerous, packing winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour).

"Today is the day to do the right thing for your family and get inland for safety," he said, adding that the storm "is wider than our entire state."

"It is expected to cause major and life threatening impacts from coast to coast," Scott said.