Today is the day. Now is the time that Floridians should finalize plans for evacuation or be prepared to ride out Hurricane Irma in a shelter or at home.
The record-breaking hurricane known as Irma has sustained winds of about 180 mph, but forecasters warn that conditions are conducive for the herculean storm to gain more strength as it moves toward the state of Florida.
Irma left the island of Barbuda with a reported 95% of buildings damaged or destroyed, and at least 8 people dead. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that about 60% of the 1400 residents are now homeless. The hurricane blasted 185 mph sustained winds through the once idyllic island.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has been left widely without power, causing hospitals to use generators. Authorities say it could be several months before the electricity is restored.
The big question now is where Irma will go next. Forecast models are mostly agreeable that a strike to Florida is likely. Most models are showing the initial landfall in south Florida, at or near the southern Dade/Broward County area. Governor Rick Scott has urged residents along the east coast to take extreme precautions, stating, Irma is “bigger, faster and stronger” than Hurricane Andrew, which wiped out entire neighborhoods in south Florida 25 years ago.
Jeff Masters, meteorology director for the website Weather Underground, who used to fly on NOAA Hurricane Hunters said, “The odds are definitely looking worse for the east coast of Florida, given the latest set of model runs,” he continued “It’s unusual to have the top four models all give the same track in advance, and they’re all doing that now. And they’re all saying it’s going to hit you guys squarely on Sunday.”
With forecasters and models is an unusually agreeable position, Floridians must consider the watches and possible warnings with the utmost of sobriety.
Florida Power & Light is determining whether or not to shut down two of its nuclear power plants, Turkey Point and St Lucie. The Turkey Point plant has nuclear reactors along the southern Biscayne Bay, and the St Lucie plant also sits along the Atlantic coast. Both plants have faced hurricanes and remained operational. Turkey Point is the state’s oldest plant; it received about $90 million damage during Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago.
Gov. Scott closed his statement to the media with this advice, “Do not sit and wait for this storm to come. Remember, we can rebuild your home — not your life.”
Check with your local government website to find a list of shelters opening in your area and finalize your hurricane plans today.