Residents of Florida, Puerto Rico, and many other areas are preparing for the potential that the Hurricane Irma storm track will hit their area this week and upcoming weekend. While it’s unknown to what extent Florida might be affected, it still has those in several areas bracing for the worst. Reports have indicated Florida residents are stocking up on supplies as they ready themselves for potential evacuations or try to survive the effects of the storm and its aftermath. The latest estimates indicate the storm will hit the northeastern Carribean hard in the coming days, and that has led to the possibilities it will reach landfall on the United States mainland as well.
The CNN website reported on Tuesday that Monroe County residents including the Florida Keys area will begin evacuating the area on Wednesday per orders. A tweet from the National Weather Service in Key West gives further details of the evacuation. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also indicated that his area would begin to evacuate special-needs residents on Wednesday as well. Jimenez said “I would rather inconvenience our residents” by forcing evacuation instead of suffering the loss of life due to any severe weather that may hit the area. Residents in other areas may also be doing the same out of fear that the storm will touch down close to home.
On Monday, Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 4 but is still picking up in speed as it continues its path on Wednesday and Thursday. Dr. Rick Knabb of The Weather Channel issued a Hurricane Irma warning which was posted to the network’s Twitter page and YouTube channel.
A number of islands find themselves under hurricane warnings due to Irma’s path. They include Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin/St. Maarten, and St. Barts.
It’s expected that the storm will be near or over Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as Anguilla by early Wednesday. The storm is expected to be near the British and U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico by later in the day.
The category 5 storm could bring winds with speeds up to 175 miles per hour as of Wednesday afternoon. The storm will continue as a Category 5 into Thursday afternoon with winds still up to 160 miles per hour. It’s expected to still be a Category 4 storm as of the weekend, which could bring winds with speeds of up to 140 miles per hour or more towards Florida.
A chart tweeted from the National Weather Service Eastern Region indicated that Hurricane Irma is considered the first storm in 12 years to have winds as strong as 185 miles per hour. The previous storm was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. A total of five storms spanning from 1935 to present year have had peak winds that strong or slightly higher.
Hurricane Irma is being called a “classic Cape Verde hurricane” as CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller explained. These can be some of the most intense hurricanes due to their formation in the far eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde or Cabo Verde Islands. The storm gets its formation there and then tracks across the Atlantic. It caused previous hurricanes including Hugo, Floyd, and Ivan, all of which were among the largest storms in the area.
Puerto Rico has already been put under a state of emergency with the National Guard having been activated there as of Monday. Residents reportedly lined up for hours to buy plywood, batteries, and power generators in the area in case Irma knocks out power. The University of Puerto Rico, as well as public schools, have canceled classes, while many businesses are also shutting down ahead of the storm.
Many of the supermarkets in regions of Florida that are bracing for the storm have shown signs of customers picking up their necessary goods and supplies. It was reported that many stores were selling out of nonperishable food and water in the Miami region. There were also lines reported to be several hours long at the Costco in Pembroke Pines, Florida as customers try to prepare for the possible severe weather.
[Featured Image by Brian Blanco/Getty Images]