MIRAMAR, Fla. ― Hurricane Irma slammed into the Lower Florida Keys Sunday morning, unleashing severe winds and storm surge on its path toward the state’s west coast.
Irma was a dangerous Category 4 storm on Sunday, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and threatening extreme weather throughout the state. Though Irma had initially been predicted to hit Miami hardest, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and other areas along Florida’s west coast were expected to bear the brunt of the storm later Sunday and Monday.
In Miramar, Florida, which is about 25 miles northwest of Miami, shelters were packed Saturday with people seeking safety, but across the area there was relative calm. Families who sought refuge in the town’s hotels sat in the lobbies playing games with their children to keep their minds off what might happen back at their homes.
Miramar and many other areas in Florida were virtual ghost towns over the weekend, with stores and restaurants closed and no gasoline available at stations.
In Miami, streets and beaches were deserted. Forecasts originally said the storm would directly hit the city, but Irma took a westward turn. Miami is still expected to see life-threatening winds.
Areas in southwestern Florida are also at risk of severe coastal flooding due to a predicted storm surge, which in some places could be more than 15 feet above ground, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Katia made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf coast as a Category 1 storm late Friday night and was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved through Mexico. Hurricane Jose was upgraded to a Category 4 storm Saturday, but began to move away from a string of Caribbean islands through the evening. Still, St. Martin and St. Bart remained under tropical storm warnings as of Saturday evening thanks to Jose, CNN reports.
Travis Waldron and Sebastian Murdock contributed reporting from Florida. Lydia O’Connor, Hayley Miller, Hilary Hanson, Carla Herreria and Lee Moran also contributed to this report.
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- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.