Praying for the safety of our retirees, local first responders, and anyone in the path of this monster.
There was a hint of good news for Floridians in Wednesday's 5 a.m. update from the National Weather Service. The hurricane's path is now forecast to ride up the middle of Florida, keeping the worst side of the storm in the Atlantic Ocean. But many projections for the storm now show it could move east of Florida and make landfall near Georgia or the Carolinas.
Irma is the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. But the storm is closing in on the record set by Hurricane Allen in 1980, which reached maximum sustained winds of 190 mph.
Preparations are already underway in Florida, where landfall is expected in south Florida on Sunday afternoon. The shifting projections of the storm, as of 5 a.m. on Wednesday, show Irma will travel up the middle of Florida and even possibly to the east.
So-called "spaghetti models," which project possible paths for the storm, show Irma could threaten the Carolinas and East Coast of the United States.
Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for Monroe County, which covers the Florida Keys. Evacuations for visitors are required beginning Wednesday morning and residents must evacuate starting Wednesday at 7 p.m.