Hurricane Irma (Image: NOAA) re-energized in order to make landfall in Cuba as a category 5 storm. The powerful beast that she is, has again been downgraded to a category 4 with sustained winds at 155 MPH. The biggest news now is the slight shift to the west, which projects her path to make direct landfall just north of Ft. Myers, on Florida’s West Coast.
But Irma has changed her mind before, so the massive system, which is roughly twice the size of the width of Florida, has residents from both coasts on edge as they await her impending arrival.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has been supernaturally dependable in addressing the storm and keeping the state updated in a calm, albeit determined manner, said this about Irma’s impact, “…we can expect this along the entire east coast and the entire west coast.”
The governor has made no excuses for the massive evacuations and repeated warnings to Floridians, noting that this is one of the largest evacuations in history. Officials and government agencies and representatives throughout the state have been unified in spreading the word of urgency about getting away from Irma’s path, protecting human life, and erring on the side of extreme caution.
About 5.6 million, or one-quarter of Floridians have been ordered to evacuate, with an estimated 7 million in total choosing to leave their homes in search of safer accommodations. The exodus spiked yesterday as the west coast learned that Irma’s track forecasted a landfall on their side.
But with a storm the size and magnitude of Irma, she does not need to “choose a side”. All of the state-wide peninsula will feel an impact from the hurling rain, whipping winds, and potentially deadly storm surge.
Remaining airports are expected to close this afternoon, grocery stores have or will shutter by day’s end, gas stations will soon board-up, even the “Happiest place on Earth” is closing early and will stay closed until at least Monday, marking only the 5th time in its history for Disney World to do so.
We will continue our coverage of Hurricane Irma as more information becomes available.