Florida has never seen anything like Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott warned early Saturday afternoon as the state prepared for the storm to strike.
"This is a deadly major storm, and our state has never seen anything like it," Scott said in a press conference in Orange County, one of several he gave to prepare residents for the oncoming damage.
"Millions of Floridians will see major hurricane impacts with deadly, deadly, deadly storm surges and life-threatening winds," he added.
He said that thousands of people had already lost power in South Florida due to the outer bands of Irma, which has sustained maximum winds of 125 miles an hour. As of Saturday afternoon, Irma was a Category 3 storm, but was expected to regain strength as it reached Florida.
Florida has often been struck by major hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew, which hit the state as a Category 5 hurricane in 1992, with winds up to 165 miles an hour. Andrew was originally thought to be a Category 4 when it made landfall, but was promoted to a Category 5 in 2002.
Scott later added that Irma would be the "most catastrophic" storm Florida has experienced."
Scott and other officials have been warning residents that Irma could be more destructive.
Altogether, nearly 7 million people, the vast majority in Florida, have been asked by officials to evacuate ahead of Irma's landfall, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The largest evacuation in U.S. history, according to PBS, was in Texas in 2005 when officials tried to clear people out before Hurricane Rita struck. Then, 3.7 million people left the Houston region.
Irma, which had been a record-breaking Category 5 storm, has been tied to at least 20 deaths in the Caribbean and is expected to make landfall in Florida by Sunday morning.