Experts warn: Plan as if you know Irma’s coming
Hurricane experts are warning Floridians not to focus on the shifting track of Irma and to prepare for impact from a major hurricane the likes of which many have never experienced.
Although the official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center moved to the east Wednesday, there is no guarantee it will continue in that direction.
“People need to act as if they are sure the storm is coming at its worst, even if we can’t be sure the worst is coming,” said Bryan Norcross, a Weather Channel hurricane expert who is credited with saving lives during Hurricane Andrew when he was a Miami meteorologist. “If the storm were to go right up Interstate 95, it would be worse than Wilma, significantly worse.”
Norcross, who published My Hurricane Andrew Story this year in honor of the 25th anniversary of the storm, said Irma’s path won’t be better understood until it makes the right-hand turn at the western edge of the Bermuda High, and that could be days away.
Under the current forecast, Irma is expected to hit Florida as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds, slowing to a Category 3 closer to Palm Beach County.
Here is what the SaffirSimpson Hurricane Wind Scale says to expect from such a storm:
Category 3 (111-129 mph winds) — Devastating damage. Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Category 4 (130-156 mph winds) — Catastrophic wind damage will occur. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/ or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Workers at The Brazilian Court hotel board up windows Tuesday, heeding a forecast that could put Palm Beach in the path of extremely powerful Hurricane Irma.