Florida is preparing well for Hurricane Irma as it approaches. In South Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward were placed under a hurricane warning and storm surge warning late Thursday.
According to the National Weather Service 11 p.m. advisory, the warnings cover Jupiter Inlet southward, around the Florida peninsula to Benita Beach, the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and the Florida Bay. These areas were also placed 12 hours earlier under a hurricane watch. The difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning is that hurricane conditions are imminently expected within the warning area. Once a warning is issued for the area, immediate and urgent preparations should be in place to protect life and property.
New parts of Florida were placed under a hurricane watch as Irma approaches the state. Included are the east coast regions north of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet and areas on the west coast north of Bonita Beach to Anna Maria island.
Irma has maximum sustained wind speeds of 165 mph, down from 175 mph. The monster storm is still traveling west-northwest at 16 mph. Meteorologists say fluctuations in intensity are to be expected, but that Irma will remain a dangerous category 4 or category 5 storm in the coming days.
Computer runs suggest that the past 24 hours could see Miami take a direct blow and be at the center of scenario as forecasters say Florida surge waters could reach life-threatening levels of between five and 10 feet above the ground.
Senior Hurricane specialist Mike Brennan says Irma’s sheer size may fuel the storm surge to be widespread. Waters could also rise far inland along the Gulf flat coastal shelf.
Gov. Rick Scott has asked residents of Florida in evacuation zones to “don’t wait and leave now.”
In Key West, it is warned that ocean waters could rise as high as eight feet accompanied by battering waves.
Hundreds camped out at Miami International airport on Thursday night, in desperate attempts to still catch flights out of South Florida.
Highways are growing clogged, too, and there are long lines at gas stations. Supplies are running out, too, in stores.