As the catastrophic Hurricane Irma makes its way through the Caribbean heading toward Florida, officials say this storm is forcing one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history.
Meteorologists now say that the European and GFS weather predicting systems are nearly aligning and showing that Irma is set to make a direct landfall in Florida. Cities from Miami to Key West to West Palm Beach to Tampa, and even further north and inland to places such as Orlando and Jacksonville, are in the storm’s path and will likely see devastating if not catastrophic damage. Miami especially will be hit hard and even high-rise buildings will likely see standing water.
Although Irma has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph, a Category 4 is still a major hurricane, and meteorologists and officials are urging Floridians to evacuate.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued mandatory evacuations for three Florida counties. In Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Brevard Counties hundreds of thousands of people were under mandatory evacuation.
"Evacuation orders are going to be given in a timely manner so people have time to evacuate," Scott said. "But if you wait, that's when the problems are going to happen."
As Floridians flee the state, fees on toll roads have been waived in order to make the evacuation process go more smoothly.
Florida Highway Patrol Spokesman Sgt. Mark Wysocky also urged Floridians not to abandon their vehicles on the highway: "Don't call for someone to pick you up and leave your car there. We want to keep the roadway clear for emergency vehicles to get in.”
Irma is currently leaving a path of destruction through the Caribbean, including the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Bahamas, and other smaller archipelagos. It is set to make impact on Florida beginning Friday night into Saturday.
Photo: Cars sit in traffic as they evacuate heading North on Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys on Septeber 5, 2017 in Islamorada, Florida. Residents are evacuating ahead of Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm expected to make landfall this weekend.
Photo courtesy: Marc Serota//Getty Images
Publication date: September 8, 2017