TALLAHASSEE, Florida — As Hurricane Irma continues its trek through the Caribbean, Floridians prepare for storm’s uncertain landfall.
UPDATE 8 a.m. ET: Views from NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters’ aircraft give a rare peek of images high above a Category 5 hurricane.
UPDATE 7:30 a.m. ET: Most computer models now have the storm turning north just as it passes over the Bahamas.
UPDATE 7 a.m. ET: Hurricane Irma dominates the front pages of Florida Wednesday newspapers from Miami to Pensacola.
UPDATE 12 a.m. ET Wednesday: According to a report, the Key West International Airport will be forced to close due to the TSA’s decision not to staff security checkpoints. Key West Mayor Craig Cates called the decision “very disappointing.”
UPDATE 11:30 p.m. ET: The National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory has the storm located at 17.4°N 61.1°W, moving west at 15 mph, 50 miles east of Antigua.
UPDATE 10:30 p.m. ET: In a statement issued late Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott ordered state offices in all of Florida’s 67 counties closed.
Statement as follows:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott directed state offices to be closed in all 67 Florida counties this Friday in preparation for Hurricane Irma. Prior to Friday’s statewide closures, state office closures will follow the direction of county officials and will be announced as they are determined. The Governor also issued a call to state employees across Florida encouraging them to volunteer in support of the state’s emergency shelter mobilization efforts.
Governor Scott said, “Our state workforce is filled with dedicated individuals who go above and beyond every day in service to the families who call Florida home. Ensuring the safety of these hardworking individuals and their families is a top priority, and I am directing all state offices to be closed this Friday so our state employees can fully focus on preparing for this storm and keeping their families safe. I am also asking these talented individuals to consider donating their time and effort to become a certified American Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer to help Floridians in need.
“I have directed all state executive agencies to authorize the deployment of any American Red Cross certified employees willing to volunteer to help in or operate shelters in response to this unprecedented storm. Agency leaders have also been authorized to grant employee volunteers training time in order to become certified if they are not already. We must do all we can to prepare our families and communities for any potential impact from this major weather event, and I appreciate the many volunteers who are gearing up to help our state during this critical time.”
In partnership with the American Red Cross, salaried, non-essential state employees can receive expedited volunteer certifications for disaster services so that they may assist in or operate shelters in response to Hurricane Irma impacts and preparation. Florida law allows Governor Scott to grant full-time, salaried state employees up to 15 days of administrative leave for emergency volunteer efforts through the American Red Cross. All Floridians can register for American Red Cross certifications at VolunteerFlorida.org.
UPDATE 9 p.m. ET: Miami Beach, FL Mayor Philip Levine is urging his residents to evacuate. According to a Miami Herald report, Levine did so at a press conference earlier today.
“I’m personally recommending to our residents that you consider leaving the city of Miami Beach in advance of the evacuation order that we anticipate will be coming from the county mayor,” Levine said.