Hurricane Irma: What We Know About The Storm’s Forecast, Evacuations And More

by Holly Gambrell

Updates as of 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 6: 

  • Palm Beach County will open 17 emergency shelters Friday morning, including a pet-friendly shelter and a special needs shelter.
  • Palm Beach County officials say they’ve been advised fuel demand is outpacing supply, and they are encouraging residents to shelter here instead of fleeing the region.
  • No Palm Beach County evacuations have been ordered, but if they are ordered in the future it will be due to storm surge, not wind speed, according to officials.
  • If you have special medical needs, register now with Palm Beach County by calling 561.712.6400.

Update as of 3 p.m. on Sept. 6: Here is what you need to know from Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief's latest press conference, held at 3 p.m. today: 

  • Shelters for Broward County were announced. Click here to find their locations. 
  • There is a pet-friendly shelter in Tamarac, but you must register your pet beforehand. To register, call the Humane Society at 954.989.3977.
  • Report power outages at fpl.com or call 800.468.8243.
  • County transportation is on a modified schedule, and will suspend operations once the weather becomes dangerous. 
  • Broward County is staging heavy equipment today to allow crews to begin safety preparations on the roads. 

Update as of noon on Sept. 6: Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief held a press conference updating the county on plans and preparations. Here are the key takeaways: 

  • Residents are encouraged to finalize their plans today. 
  • Broward County has declared a local state of emergency.
  • If you are planning on staying with friends or family over the weekend begin moving items there today, and begin staying with them today. 
  • Residents living east of Federal Highway, those living in mobile homes and those living in laying areas are under evacuation. Leave tomorrow at the latest. 
  • If you are staying at a shelter, bring everything you will need including water, snacks, clothes for three to five days and bedding. 
  • Fourteen emergency evacuation centers will open at noon tomorrow. 
  • Shelters are a last resort: stay with friends or family if you can. 
  • Broward County government operations will be closed Thursday and Friday. 
  • Employers: Allow your employees to have adequate time to prepare for the storm. 
  • There are no fuel shortages at this time. 
  • The emergency hotline for Broward County is open 24/7. Call 331 or 954.831.4000.
  • Residents should put up storm shutters and take other protective actions today. 
  • FPL has announced that power outages will occur: prepare to be without electricity for three to five days. 
  • Broward County Parks' after school programs are closed Thursday and Friday. 
  • All Florida highway tolls are suspended. 
  • All Broward County evening classes, athletic events and school operations will close today at 6 p.m. and remain closed throughout the weekend. 
  • Pedestrians are encouraged to be off the street by noon today so that the county can prepare the roads for the storm. 
  • Keep in mind that Monroe County (The Keys) has declared a mandatory evacuation. The roads coming from the south, up into Broward County will be crowded. Plan accordingly. 
  • Miami-Dade is starting evacuations tonight. 
  • If you are going to leave, the county encourages you to do so today. 

Other important updates across South Florida: 

  • Palm Beach County has declared a state of emergency. 
  • Sandbags will be distributed from noon to 6 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, or until supplies last at 200 Goolsby Blvd., Deerfield Beach. Bring photo identification and proof of residence. Limit of 10 bags per household.
  • Sandbags will be distributed starting at 12 p.m. today at Mills Pond Park, 2201 NW 9 Ave. There is a limit of five bags per car while supplies last. The city will provide the bags and residents are responsible for bagging sand themselves. Residents must show proof of Fort Lauderdale residency with state-issued driver’s license or identification card.
  • Sandbags will be available at a 10 bag minimum with proof of Miramar residency at three city locations on Thursday starting at 12 p.m. until supplies run out. The locations are: Miramar Multi-Service Center, 6700 Miramar Parkway; City of Miramar Adult Daycare Facility adjacent lot, 8915 Miramar Parkway; Sunset Lakes Community Center, 2801 SW 186 Ave. Bags will be provided.
  • The city of Oakland Park will allow residents to fill up to 10 bags of sand at its sandbag depot today, Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents with proof they live in Oakland Park can get the sand at 5100 NE 12th Terrace.
  • The City of Pompano Beach is providing sandbags until 5 p.m. today at the Public Works Trash Transfer Station, 1400 NE 3 Ave. Bags, sand and shovels will be provided, but residents will need to fill their own bags. There is a maximum of five bags per resident.
  • North Miami will be giving out sandbags today to only North Miami residents at the North Miami Motor Pool at 1855 NE 142 St. They will be given out from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or until supplies last.
  • The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County is requesting residents refrain from cutting down whole trees or doing major yard or construction projects until after the storm passes. Residents shouldn’t put debris at the curb.
  • The construction cranes in Miami aren’t meant to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The city is encouraging those who live in a building next to a construction crane not to stay there during the storm, because the crane’s arm could pose a potential danger if it collapses.

South Florida continues to prepare for Hurricane Irma, the powerful Category 5 storm barreling across the Caribbean. 

Irma’s maximum sustained winds have reached over 180 mph, and the storm is on track to hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before making its way to South Florida. 

Here is the latest prediction of Irma’s path: 

Hurricane Irma's forecast as of 8 a.m.
The exact path of where Irma will hit South Florida is still unknown. 

Hurricane Irma’s forecast cone shifted east overnight, placing South Florida near the center of the storm. Yet, the forecast could change as the storm gets closer. The storm is forecast to weaken over the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. advisory on Wednesday. 

Important note: the average error in the National Hurricane Center forecast of the center of a tropical cyclone four to five days out ranges from 175 to 225 miles. That means that pinpointing precise impacts and locations of the storm is not yet possible for Florida. 

The forecast path currently shows that Irma’s center could go on either side of the state, or right up the middle. Where Irma turns north will determine what part of Florida will experience the most impact. 

As of the morning of Sept. 6, the storm is expected to be a Category 3 or 4 when it hits South Florida over the weekend. 

Authorities throughout South Florida are preparing: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said evacuations of residents with special needs will begin today, and others might be ordered to evacuate soon. 

Broward County has coordinated plans for 43 shelters that can accommodate up to 33,000 people and sheltering operations will begin Thursday. Broward County, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County schools have closed for Thursday and Friday. 

Palm Beach County officials are planning to meet this morning to determine the timing of shelters opening and if they will order evacuations. 

South Florida residents should prepare for the worst to happen anytime between Friday night through Monday, with tropical-force winds possible by Friday evening. 

The storm could produce eight to 10 inches of rain over the weekend, and flooding is expected, although not on the scale of flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. 

The South Florida Water Management District is currently lowering the water levels in drainage canals to accommodate the rain. The Herbert Hoover Dike, which holds Lake Okeechobee’s waters, could be vulnerable to a breach if a strong hurricane hits. The Army Corps of Engineers announced plans on Tuesday afternoon to release water from the lake into the Gulf and the Atlantic. 

You might feel tense after reading this article, and although the storm is no laughing matter, here is some South Floridian humor to lighten the mood: 

Created by Eric Barton

Concerned about your boat? Click here for tips on how to prepare your vessel for a hurricane. 

Photos via Twitter/7 Weather


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