Could Hurricane Irma Put Key West And The Florida Keys Under Water?

With the category 5 Hurricane Irma headed toward the Florida Keys, it is time to get out, according to authorities. Irma is the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history and it is churning along with the Florida Keys in its scope.

Visitors of the Florida Keys were told to leave today, Wednesday, and by Thursday the residents of the Keys should leave. Despite mandatory evacuations, authorities cannot force people to leave. Once a mandatory evacuation is called and people do not heed this warning, you have no chance of rescue. Once that storm hits you are on your own. There are no shelters opening in the Florida Keys, the islands should be evacuated with the biggest Atlantic hurricane in history taking aim.

In a storm the size of Irma, if you stay on the Florida Keys, you will most likely need a rescue and one will not materialize. The chain of 42 Florida Keys ends with Key West, which sits about 90 miles from Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of the island chain of the Florida Keys sits only three to five feet above sea level, reports CBS Miami. With a category 5 hurricane taking aim at the Florida Keys, the wave heights expected “would literally put the ocean over the islands,” warns Monroe Co. Emergency Operations Center Director Martin Senterfitt.

According to the Telegraph, “The hurricane is so strong that it appeared on seismometers, which are designed to measure earthquakes, and has the potential for coastal storm surges of up to 20 feet above normal tide levels.”

At this point on Wednesday morning, according to Fox & Friends, Irma is headed for the Florida Keys. With sustained winds of 185 mph and wind gusts up to 214 mph, the chance of survival if you attempt to ride this storm out on the Florida Keys is slim to none. Senterfitt warns:

“For the Florida Keys, if you were to create the worst case scenario that is what we are looking at.”

Take a good look at the video below, this is what Irma looked like making landfall in St. Martens, it is not a hurricane to ride out, so heed the warnings on the Florida Keys and get out now.

According to ABC News, the deadliest storm to hit the Keys happened back in 1935 on Labor Day. The storm hit with winds of 185 mph and a storm surge of 18-feet washed over the island leaving more than 400 people dead in its wake. The railroad and bridges were washed away, leaving the lower and middle Keys only accessible by air and boat.

In 1960, Hurricane Donna washed over the Keys taking four lives. That storm hit on September 10 with sustained winds of 140 mph. With Hurricane Donna, the storm surge reached 13.5 feet. Hurricane Irma is more powerful than both of these storms.

A satellite image of Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic.

Key West is only 7.24 miles in area, with it running about four miles long and about two miles wide at its widest, according to Key West Trolley Tours.

You can check out the elevation of Key West on the Key West.gov website’s elevation map, it will give you a good idea of how low this island sits in the ocean water.

[Featured Image by Chris Van Lennep Photo/Shutterstock]