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Florida Readies for Powerful Hurricane Wilma

Florida is ordering evacuations for the Keys as Hurricane Wilma, identified as the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded, makes its way toward the Gulf of Mexico.

At 8 p.m. ET, Hurricane Wilma was about 270 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and about 452 miles south-southwest of Key West. The Category 5 storm is moving across the Caribbean Sea with top winds of about 160 miles per hour. Its rains have caused the greatest damage so far, killing at least 11 people in Haiti in mudslides after dropping 10 to 15 inches of rain. In Jamaica, the storm's outer bands are blamed for one death, flooding and mudslides.

The storm could pass between Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday, and current projections have it reaching Florida over the weekend. Visitors to the Florida Keys have been ordered to leave by Thursday. The island chain's 80,000 residents have been asked to evacuate on Friday.

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center in Miami say the storm may weaken by the time it reaches Florida, but it's too early to be certain.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.