Florida is preparing for a direct hit from Hurricane Irma

Mass evacuations have been ordered ahead of the deadly hurricane.
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Hurricane Irma has killed at least 19 people and continues its path of destruction toward the Bahamas and Cuba. 

As the now-Category 4 hurricane makes its way towards the U.S., North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are under states of emergency, and some areas are evacuating. 

The storm is expected to reach the Florida Keys and southern tip of the state by Sunday morning, if things continue as forecast. In its 7 a.m. update Friday, the National Hurricane Center says it's likely Irma will arrive in Florida as a "dangerous major hurricane" with sustained winds of 150 mph. 

Hurricane and storm surge warnings are in effect for much of the southern Florida peninsula, and officials are warning Irma could reach far beyond its projected path

Officials urge people to leave right away

Officials across the state are pleading with Floridians to make preparations, with officials in some cities urging residents to leave as soon as possible.

ABC News says more than half a million people were ordered to leave South Florida on Thursday.

"Regardless of which (Florida) coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN.

In a tweet Thursday afternoon, National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini emphasized how important it is to follow local officials' instructions.

"I can't stress enough how vital it is for everyone within or near the predicted track to take this storm seriously and take every precaution for your safety," he said.

The National Hurricane Center says there's a chance portions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina will be directly impacted by Irma as well, but it's too soon to specify where it'll hit and how bad it might get.

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