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Hurricane Irma Moving Northward, Storm Surge Risks Continue

Updated at 9:13 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2017 

Hurricane Irma is moving northward, and dangerous storm surges are expected along the west coast of Florida, according to an 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.  

Get the latest information about Hurricane Irma at WLRN.org/weather

From the National Weather Service:

Irma is moving toward the north near 14 mph (22 km/h), and a north-northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected by tonight, with that motion continuing through Monday.  On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula through Monday morning.  Irma should then move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 105 mph (165 km/h) with higher gusts.  Although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning.

The storm will be pushing hurricane-force winds outward up to 80 miles from the eye of the storm. Tropical storm winds extend up to 220 miles outside the eye. Officials are reminding people not to go outside in the middle of the eye.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked President Donald Trump for a major disaster declaration request Sunday, which was approved later in the afternoon. The request would provide public assistance, mitigation and individual assistance, which will be available once the storm passes. 

"We will spare no expense" for rescues once the storm has passed, Scott said.

The governor has also waived the fuel tax in order to get gas into the state after the storm. 

"Don't think the storm is over when the wind slows down. This storm surge could kill you," Scott said.

Gov. Scott said Florida has received direct support from 16 states so far. 

A storm surge warning and hurricane warning are in effect for the entire island chain. 

Hurricane warnings are in effect for:

  • Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to Indian Pass
  • Florida Keys
  • Lake Okeechobee
  • Florida Bay 

Storm surge warnings are now in effect for:

  • South Santee River southward to Jupiter Inlet
  • North Miami Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to the
    Ochlockonee River
  • Florida Keys
  • Tampa Bay

The National Weather Service employee Kevin Scharfenberg captured video of a crane collapse in downtown Miami: 

This is the City of Miami's jurisdiction; Miami and Miami-Dade fire chiefs are now consulting about how to jointly respond to the damage once the winds subside. They cannot send out teams immediately because the conditions are too dangerous. Officials had previously suggested cranes should be able to withstand winds up to 145 mph. 

In Miami Shores, Police Chief Kevin Lystad tells WLRN a sea wall collapsed from storm surge in front of a 5-story coastal condo building with many elderly people in it. First floor residents had to be evacuated. The building's integrity was not endangered.

Miami-Dade County Police say they cannot patrol until the hurricane-force winds subside. The only calls they'll make today will be for life-threatening situations. Fortunately, they say they haven't yet had to respond to any calls involving people out in the storm today.

Miami-Dade officials also ask that people not call 311 to report power outage (311 is the information line). Instead, call 1-800-4OUTAGE. Also, if people who could not get to a shelter find themselves in an unsafe situation they need to call 911, not 311. The county is urging people not to come out and seek those shelters now that hurricane conditions are arriving. That said, no shelter will turn anyone away who shows up. Approximately 31,000 people have now gone to the shelters; the shelters have a capacity of 100,000.

In Palm Beach County, more than 300 additional people sought refuge from Hurricane Irma in emergency shelters Saturday night, bringing the total number to over 17,500 evacuees in shelters. There are reports of major flooding in Fort Pierce. Palm Beach County Zoo officials report all animals are OK and there is no major damage to facilities so far.

The Palm Beach County League of Cities Executive Director says no municipalities have reported major damage so far.

Authorities have issued evacuation orders in the following areas: 

- All of Monroe County

- Miami-Dade County Zones A, B, C (Plug in your address to find your zone.)

Broward County east of U.S. 1 

- Palm Beach County Zones A, B, C (voluntary) and the Glades section of Zone E. 

Residents in Palm Beach County have been under a curfew since 3 p.m. on Saturday. From a county news release:

"A person must have a legitimate purpose for being out past curfew hours. In addition to the curfew, the State of Emergency also Prohibits the Sale and/or Distribution of Alcohol as well as the Sale and/or Display of Firearms."

Broward County's curfew started 4 p.m. Saturday and will remain until further notice.

In Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado announced a curfew in the city from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday. Miami Beach has also issued a curfew starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday through 7 a.m. on Sunday, according to a press release. Essential services including police, fire and hospital services are exempt. 

The city of Homestead has a curfew from 8 p.m. on Saturday to 6 a.m. on Sunday to allow police to protect the community, according to a press release. North Miami Beach will also have a curfew from 8 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Sunday. It will be extended if needed. 

In addition, concerns about the impact of Irma on the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee motivated the Florida Governor Rick Scott to issue voluntary evacuations in the cities surrounding the southern half of the lake, from Lake Port to Canal Point in Hendry, Palm Beach and Glades counties.

Read more: Are You In An Evacuation Zone? Here's How To Know

"I can not stress this enough. Get prepared, know your evacuation zone, listen to your locals. And you have to take this seriously. Remember we can rebuild your home, we can not rebuild your life," said Gov. Rick Scott at a press conference in Doral on Wednesday afternoon. "This is a life-threatening storm, protecting life is an absolute top priority."

On Tuesday evening in preparation for the eventual arrival of Hurricane Irma, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for the 67 Florida counties. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy to the field. 

Justo Hernández has been named as FEMA's federal coordinating officer for federal response operations in Florida, according to a release from the agency. 

Hurricane hunter aircrafts are making routine flights into Hurricane Irma multiple times a day to obtain more forensics on the storm. 

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