Hurricane Irma hits home
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After destroying the Caribbean islands late Saturday night and swamping the Florida Keys Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma shifted its path from a head on collision course with Miami, Florida, to sweeping up the Gulf Coast of west Florida. According to the New York Times, this sudden shift in direction saw the stranded occupants of the Gulf Coast barricading public shelters, such as schoolhouses and other public buildings, in a last ditch effort to withstand the storm.
Hurricane Irma, as having a near 400 mile width, was set at a category five hurricane on the Atlantic seas. The hurricane started the largest evacuation in Florida’s state history, with over 6 million people ordered to move from their homes and out of the storm’s path. “If you have been ordered to evacuate, leave now. This is your last chance to make a good decision” Governor Rick Scott said at a press conference Saturday.
After devastating the Caribbean Islands and leaving a death count reaching into the high twenties, Irma downgraded to a category three hurricane. As it continued, surging through the Florida Keys, Irma ramped back up to a category four, blasting Marco Island with 115 mph winds and fixing to brush Naples, Florida, with expected gusts of 75 mph winds. The landfall is expected to be somewhere in that area.
According to the Los Angeles Times, winds reaching up to 95 mph were reported at the Miami National Airport early Saturday morning. Hurricane force winds were to be expected all throughout southern and central Florida. Aside from the blasting winds and pounding rain spiraling off from the storm’s mass, areas where peak surge coincided with high tide, were predicted to have water levels rise as much as 6 feet above normally dry land from the northeastern Florida coast to the central South Carolina coast on the storm’s Atlantic side. The Washington Post reported that inland flooding remains a risk for southeast states. Tornado watches have been issued in coastal areas from northeastern Georgia to southeastern South Carolina.
As to relief efforts, the Tallahassee Democrat reports that two airports in the Keys have been put back to working order, and might be capable of accepting supplies from military planes. With damage still being accounted for, only time will tell how the fallout in Florida compares