Update: Irma is now a Category 5
With Florida already bracing for a hit from Hurricane Irma, which according to some models may attain “monster” Category 5 winds as it nears land prompting locals to store up on everything from water to food to gas and various other housing supplies, late on Monday afternoon Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency ahead of potential landfall, just hours after the governor of Puerto Rico did the same.
— Chris Merryman (@realmerryman) September 4, 2017
At roughly the same time, the NHC announced that Irma’s top sustained winds have reached 130mph (215 kph), which prompted an upgrade to a Category 4 storm for Irma. According to the latest update, Irma was moving west at 13mph, and was currently located about 490 miles east of Leeward Islands.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy.
Puerto Rico is expected to be hit at 2pm on Wednesday.
While some models suggest a small chance of (another) Gulf of Mexico hit:
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas2) September 4, 2017
Even more concerning, it now appears that despite hopes for a last minute course revision, Miami is smack in the middle of the latest hurricane path projections.
— Craig Setzer CBS4 (@CraigSetzer) September 4, 2017
Which likely means that the preliminary panic which has gripped some Florida residents, is about to get worse. As we reported earlier, WPTV in Palm Beach reported that Shelves of water at several stores were nearly empty Sunday, even as Irma’s path remains uncertain. Hardware stores are also running out of tanks of gas and other supplies. One distressed shopper told WPTV that one Walmart had run out of bottled water.
“There was nothing at Walmart,” said Bianca Rodriguez of Palm Beach Gardens. “Not even like one thing of water.”
According to WPTV emergency officials recommend people have one gallon of water per person, per day for at least five days in the event of a hurricane. Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that “disaster preparedness” should be a priority for every family in the potential path of the storm. One shopper said he bought the last remaining cases of bottled water at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Rodriguez found cases of bottled water at a Winn-Dixie on Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens Sunday night. ‘I lucked out. There’s only a couple left, but at least there was enough for me,’ said Rodriguez.”
A Home Depot in Royal Palm Beach on Monday morning posted a sign that said they were short of some hurricane supplies.
And while some stores have already run out of supplies, for most Florida residents it is not too late to take precautions.
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Here, courtesy of Wunderground’s Bob Henson, is the latest summary on the rapidly intensifying Hurricane Irma, whose threat for Cuba, Puerto Rica and Florida, is rising by the hour.