Australia Weather News

As Hurricane Irma approached the Florida coast and one of the largest mass evacuations in US history was underway, authorities were forced to warn people not to fire their guns at the approaching storm.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office tweeted late on Saturday: "DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won't make it turn around [and] it will have very dangerous side effects."

The sheriff's office, which is in the Tampa Bay-area, was responding to a Facebook event page created by two Florida men inviting people to shoot their guns into the storm.

The page read: "YO SO THIS GOOFY … LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST … "

Within hours, images depicting "how to shoot at a hurricane" were shared among the group with the suggestion that if you fire correctly the bullet might not come back and kill you.

The invitation was a joke, but 80,000 people indicated they were "going" or "interested" in the event.

"Well guys, it's here. The moment we've been waiting for. It was cool to see the response this got from Facebook. On another note, I've learned that about 50% of the world could not understand sarcasm to save their lives. Carry on," the page's creator, 22-year-old Ryon Edwards, posted.

Earlier he told the BBC that: "A combination of stress and boredom made me start the event".

In a tweet issued in the hours as Irma neared the Florida Keys, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office asked the thousands of people who had shared the page to also share their request for volunteers needed at hurricane shelters.

The Facebook page has since turned into a forum for people to share advice and support during the storm.

"Check on your neighbours, help, out, see if any of your local shelters need help," Mr Edwards said as the storm system bore down on Florida.

ABC