Irma Prompts Largest Ever Evacuation of Miami-Dade County

Meanwhile, the impact of the Category 5 hurricane depends on a right turn
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2017 3:49 PM CDT
Irma Prompts Largest Ever Evacuation of Miami-Dade County
Northbound traffic, right, on I-75 through Sarasota, Fla., is heavier than normal, but still moving on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Many South Florida residents are evacuating and heading north as Hurricane Irma approaches.   (Mike Lang /Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)

"If you live in any evacuation zones and you're still at home, LEAVE!" the AP quotes Florida Gov. Rick Scott as saying. "We can't save you once the storm hits." With Hurricane Irma continuing its path toward Florida, Miami-Dade County expanded evacuation orders Thursday to incorporate areas further inland, the Miami Herald reports. With more than 650,000 people now ordered to leave their homes, it's the largest evacuation ever attempted by the county. South Carolina is also evacuating its coastal counties, according to CNN. Philip Levine, the mayor of Miami Beach, calls Irma a "nuclear hurricane," and urges everyone to comply with evacuation orders. "We don't need heroes," he says.

So how much danger is Florida actually in? That all depends on a right turn. While it's still too soon to know if, where, and how Irma will make landfall in the US, the director of the National Weather Service says there's no question the Category 5 storm will turn in the coming days. A sharp turn puts Irma over the coast, or not even over land at all. But a wider or later turns, puts its dangerous center on a collision course with Miami. It's unclear which path Irma will take, with one new model predicting the former and another new model the latter. But if Irma hits Miami, the results would be "catastrophic," according to a CNN meteorologist. (More Hurricane Irma stories.)

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