It is known as the Sunshine State, but in the last 14 months Florida has had more than its fair share of stormy weather. Wilma will be the seventh hurricane to come ashore in that period, and authorities are warning against complacency.
“I cannot emphasise enough to the folks that live in the Florida Keys that a hurricane is coming, and a hurricane is a hurricane,” said Florida Governor Jeb Bush. “It has deadly force winds. Perhaps people are saying ‘I’m going to hunker down.’ They shouldn’t do that. They should evacuate.”
Those who have not heeded evacuation orders are being told to move to shelters rather than try to leave the danger zones.
Meanwhile tropical storm Alpha – the 22nd of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season – has been downgraded to a tropical depression. Life-threatening floods and landslides are possible on the island of Hispaniola.
Around half a million people have been evacuated from western parts of Cuba, which has already been lashed by rains and tornadoes. Forecasters there warn worse is to come.
There is relief in Mexico after Wilma left, having ravaged the Yucatan peninsula and killed several people.