Well, it looks as though the situation with Hurricane Irma went down today, folks.
This morning, the National Hurricane Service in Miami declared that the major hurricane churning through the unusually warm waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean achieved Category 5 status, with sustained wind speeds maxing out around 185 mph by the late afternoon, just in time for the 5 o’ clock update.
Our thoughts and prayers are needed by millions of people in the path of the storm tonight, as Irma is expected to make landfall in several island nations early tomorrow morning. The list includes Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla. Tomorrow afternoon, Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands are up next to contend with the major storm, with essentially zero time or resources left to prepare or evacuate.
Puerto Rican Landfall
We reported last night that the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, declared a state of emergency for the island. Today, he tweeted a copy of his letter to President Trump requesting a declaration of emergency for Puerto Rico and allocation of “FEMA resources” to the territory ahead of the storm.
This evening, he also tweeted about his appearance on the Weather Channel, sharing last minute tips for those who may be stuck on the island and elsewhere in Irma’s immediate vicinity.
The population of Puerto Rico is just shy of 3.5 million, and the populations of Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla are 100,000; 50,000; and 15,000, respectively. This sets the number of people directly affected by Hurricane Irma within the next 24 hours at around 4 million, comparable to the population of the state of Oregon.
Mainland U.S. Landfall
Believe it or not, there is still a ray of hope for the continental United States. Despite what the media appears to be highlighting, there is still a modest chance that Irma will not make landfall in peninsular Florida—at least not directly—and a smaller, yet viable, chance that Irma will miss Florida entirely.
Regardless of the outcome, it pays to take no chances and to prepare for the worst. Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has ordered a mandatory evacuation of all tourists and visitors beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at sunrise, around 7 AM, with mandatory residential evacuations beginning soon after at time yet to be determined. Area hospitals have already initiated evacuation plans for patients and the mayor of Miami, Carlos Gimenez, has called for the evacuation of all special needs residents in his area to evacuated, and for all other residents to stand by but be prepared to move.
No matter what happens, remember God is with us all. We must remain steadfast and ready, in case this situation deteriorates even further. I don’t see a major reason why it would, but we never know for sure until the storm shows up, if it does. Remember, be anxious for nothing and pray. That’s all we really can do right now. Pray. Seriously. Please do.
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