'Potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Irma forces universities to cancel classes
NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center image of Hurricane Irma. Source: Reuters

Universities located in the US state of Florida are taking measures in anticipation of the massive and “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm headed for landfall somewhere in their state over the weekend.

Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Miami (UM) are among schools which have cancelled classes and events from Wednesday through the weekend.

“To allow time for the university community to prepare and be safe, all classes, including online classes, are canceled starting at 11pm tonight through the weekend,” a message on FIU News wrote.

Students and staff are advised to prepare the necessary supplies, secure their property and make arrangements on their shelter before the storm.

UM students have also been told to leave South Florida if possible.

“The University is strongly encouraging all students on the Coral Gables and Marine campuses to leave South Florida,” an advisory published on UM News & Events wrote.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported the storm had become a Category 5 one with sustained winds of 185 miles (298km) per hour. The all-time record hurricane wind speed is 190 miles (305.8km) per hour, held by Hurricane Allen which occurred in 1980.

Monster storm Hurricane Katrina – with maximum wind speed of 175 miles (281.6km) per hour – caused 1,833 deaths and cost about US$108 billion in damages, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, according to Reuters, mobilising federal disaster relief efforts in Florida before Irma’s arrival.

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