With Hurricane Irma, now an “extremely dangerous” category 5 storm bearing down on southeastern Florida, the Miami Herald reports that Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez has told reporters that an evacuation order was "probably coming late Wednesday or early Thursday." According to the latest forecasts, the storm is expected to make landfall in the US this weekend, unless the jet stream pulls it in a more northerly direction.
As we reported earlier, the storm has shifted west more quickly than forecasters had anticipated. As of Tuesday, the storm was on track to slam Miami, though its eventual path may vary.
“Over the past couple of days, the track of the storm has shifted “a lot further to the west”, and at this point it appears that Miami is the most likely to take the full force of the hurricane. But as we have seen, trying to forecast the behavior of hurricanes is not an exact science. Irma may never become a category 5 storm, and it may never hit the U.S. at all. Or it may zip past Florida to the south and end up making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico. The truth is that we just don’t know.”
Gimenez said county evacuation zones A and B would be the target of the order. Miami Beach and much of the coastal areas of Miami and southern Dade have a particularly high risk of flooding. Plus, future orders may broaden the evacuation target. Evacuation orders trigger a voluntary evacuation ahead of expected coastal flooding, with officials warning emergency services will not be available during a storm in the areas.
Gimenez said the first wave of evacuations of about 2,000 vulnerable residents will probably start Wednesday morning.
"This is a powerful storm that poses a serious threat to our area," Gimenez said at a Tuesday afternoon briefing.
Whether residents are evacuated or not, the city of Miami Beach is not taking changes, and has already begun distributing free sandbags to residents. According to the Herald, officials will be handing out sandbags at 451 Dade Blvd. Residents must show ID and can receive 10 bags per family. The city will continue to distribute sandbags from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. until supplies are gone or - ironically - inclement weather forces the distribution to stop.
As Irma inches closer to Florida, shoppers aren’t taking any chances. A wave of prepping fever has hit the public as grocery stores and home improvement chains are already being flooded with traffic. Of course, this is only going to get worse the closer that Irma gets.
If Irma hits the United States as a category 4 or category 5 storm, it is going to make history. Meteorologists say that the United States has not been hit by two hurricanes of at least category 4 strength in the same year in more than a century. And prior to Hurricane Harvey, a hurricane had not made landfall in this country in about 12 years.