DISCUSSION: As Hurricane Irma continues its final stretch to Florida, people are evacuating in a mass exodus from the storm. As Irma continues to crawl, it’s forecasted path continues to change as the main target has shifted west from the Miami-Palm Beach area towards Naples and the west side of the state. Many more cities including Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach are preparing for the storm. As time ticks closer and closer to the arrival, the escape routes have become much more limited and crowded as airports have closed or will close. In addition to the roads being crowded, many stores shelves are empty as those unable to leave grabbed the remaining supplies especially drinking water and wood to board up the doors and windows to help prevent massive damages from Irma.
Irma has already impacted much of the evacuation, as Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood and Miami airports officially closed Friday evening at approximately 9 pm. In addition, Tampa International announced they would be closing at 8 pm on Saturday due to the storm, while Orlando International announced their closure to be occurring at 5 pm on Saturday. Airports were not the only locations to announce their closures in Central Florida. Walt Disney World officially announced all the parks and attractions would be closed on Sunday and Monday, meanwhile, Universal Orlando announced they would also close early on Saturday and remain closed through Sunday and Monday.
On Friday night, the National Weather Service expanded a Hurricane Warning across Florida with the northern boundary being drawn from Manatee County to Indian River County and as far south as the waters surrounding the Florida Keys. The NWS has also issued Hurricane Watches for much of the rest of the Florida peninsula including Tallahassee. In addition, the NWS office in Key West issued this tweet: