For the last week Hurricane Irma has been gaining strength in the Atlantic Ocean and was upgraded by the National Weather Service to a category 5 storm early Tuesday morning. Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic with winds of 185 miles per hour. Irma is currently making its way west through the Caribbean Sea, “the extremely dangerous core of Irma will continue to move over portions of the Virgin Islands” Wednesday afternoon, bringing maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, the National Hurricane Center says. The hurricane is leaving 1 million people without power in Puerto Rico and killing at least 10. Irma’s path has been top of mind for many as it nears the U.S. East Coast over the next couple of days. The NHC’s 2 p.m. ET forecast shows the storm’s path tracking up the east coast of Florida. Landfall in Florida is now expected by Sunday or Monday, the NHC predicted.
– The state has activated a 24-hour-a-day Emergency Information Line (1-800-342-3557) for residents seeking information on Irma
– Key West International Airport (EYW) announced it would close Wednesday night, the first Florida airport to do so
– In all, more than 850 flights to or from 30 airports in the Caribbean have been cancelled due to Irma, according to FlightAware
– Monroe County (includes Key West and National Everglades Park), Florida, leaders ordered an evacuation for “all visitors, tourists, and non-residents” that began Wednesday at 7am. All residents are ordered to evacuate beginning at 7pm.
– The U.S. Navy also ordered active duty, civilians, and families to evacuate Naval Air Station Key West beginning at 8p Wednesday
– Miami-Dade County said it will start evacuating special needs residents on Wednesday
– The state suspended toll collection on popular routes leading out of the storm zone
– Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a state of emergency order that includes every county, which will free up state resources to help residents prepare
– On Wednesday, Scott activated additional members of the National Guard. Now, 1,000 troops are deployed across the state and assist in preparations
– South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared a state of emergency
– Cruise ships bound for Caribbean destinations are being diverted or cancelled
– On Wednesday, the Coast Guard raised its alert level for South Florida ports warning that sustained gale force winds could arrive within 72 hours
– Port Condition ZULU means all ports are closed to traffic and all ship-to-shore operations “must cease until further notice.”
– “In preparation for Hurricane Irma, Buckeye Partners initiated full plant shutdown procedures at the company’s Puerto Rico operations on Tuesday per established hurricane preparedness plans and has suspended all marine terminal operations,” a company spokesman wrote
National Hurricane Center
Where has Hurricane Irma made landfall?
The forecasted path of the storm has shifted significantly since the beginning of the week. Here are the most recent (as of Thursday 10:00am eastern) storm-timing forecasts from the National Hurricane Center:
Leeward Islands: Irma made landfall early Wednesday morning.
Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Irma made landfall on Wednesday afternoon and continued into the evening
Dominican Republic/Haiti: Irma is just north of the coast of the island of Hispaniola as of Thursday morning
Turks and Caicos: Late Thursday into early Friday
Cuba: Friday into Friday evening
Bahamas: Early Saturday
Florida Keys: Early Sunday
Miami, FL: Sunday
Orlando, FL: Early Monday
Savannah, GA: Early Tuesday