Florida has been hit by the ‘most catastrophic storm’ it has ever seen, with Hurricane Irma bringing tornadoes, a 15 ft sea surge, flooding and 130 mph winds.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Just to put everything in perspective, I am writing this article from Saint Augustine in Northeast Florida, 8 hours away from the Florida Keys. Yet the winds here are howling with the lights flickering on and off as pounding rains hit against my office window. That’s how powerful Hurricane Irma is. Irma is going to be hitting on the west coast, but a quick look at my map app tells me that’s only about 175 miles away. Irma is over 400 miles wide. Something tells me it’s prayin’ time.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys this morning as powerful winds and rain pummeled the state, leaving at least three people dead and over 1 million households and businesses without power.
Meanwhile, about 100 miles from the Keys in Miami, wind gusts whipped around high-rise buildings at speeds approaching 100 mph, the National Weather Service said.
A strong rain band is expected in the Miami area around 10 a.m. to noon, with gusts potentially up to 100 mph.
— vitoptah ن (@VitoPtah) September 10, 2017
Florida’s streets were deserted on Saturday as the state’s 20 million people prepared for the arrival of one of the most powerful storms ever to hit their region.
Forecasters said Irma could hit the Tampa-St. Petersburg areas early Monday.
The Tampa Bay area has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, when its population was about 10,000, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. Now around 3 million people live there.
— Mike Theiss (@MikeTheiss) September 10, 2017
The governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 30,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were on standby.
In the Orlando area, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World all closed on Saturday. The Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando airports shut down.
Given its mammoth size and strength and its projected course, Irma could prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida and inflict damage on a scale not seen here in 25 years.
Hurricane Andrew smashed into suburban Miami in 1992 with winds topping 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes. The damage in Florida totaled $26 billion, and at least 40 people died.
The Miami-Dade Police Department says their officers are sheltered for their safety, and they cannot respond to calls for service, according to a tweet on the department’s verified Twitter account.
Miami-Dade PD is urging residents to stay indoors and not venture outside.