IRMA: Massive hurricane starts northwest movement

By Digital Media Staff,
Last Updated: Sunday, September 10, 2017, 1:48 AM EDT

Bay News 9 Meteorologist Brian McClure said at 1:34 a.m. Sunday that the "the northwest movement (of Irma) is happening, for sure."

The shifting Hurricane Irma has prompted a hurricane warning and storm surge warning northward along Florida's west coast to Chassahowitzka.  

The Hurricane Warning now includes Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk and Manatee Counties. 

Gov. Scott held a news conference at 6 p.m. on Irma's latest track and evacuation notices: 

  • Up to 15 feet of storm surge above the ground level in some cases.
  • I don't think anyone realizes the extent of the storm surge. How can anyone survive this stuff?
  • Wait for local officials before going back, even if it looks like your home is safe.
  • Florida this week has shown what it means to get prepared.
  • We are under an emergency situation. We need nurses to volunteer at special needs shelters.
  • The Coast Guard is on stand by for search and rescue. Food and water is at staging areas to move to impact areas after.
  • Be sure to check on the elderly, friends and family. If they need to get out, make sure they do so.
  • Do not think the storm is over when the wind dies down. That's when the storm surge comes in. Wait for local officials.

As of 11 p.m., the Storm Surge Warning has been extended westward from the Suwannee River to the Ochlockonee River.

The Storm Surge Warning has been discontinued north of North Miami Beach to Jupiter Inlet.

The government of Cuba has discontinued the Hurricane Warning for the province of Camaguey. | SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS

Gov. Scott held a news conference at 12 p.m. on Irma's latest track and evacuation notices: 

  • 1,000 volunteer nurses are needed to help at special needs shelters. To help email helpfl@flhealth.gov
  • "We can't thank our first responders and law enforcement enough for doing everything they can to keep us safe."
  • "We are working aggressively to keep gas stations open for people evacuating."
  • "Evacuations are not meant to be convenient, there are meant to keep you safe."
  • "If you're in an evacuation zone you need to leave now. Do not wait."

If you should lose power but still have wifi access or cell phone data you will be able to watch Bay News 9:

On this track, the center itself may stay just offshore the northern coast of Cuba, close enough for some weakening. 

As Irma moves over warmer waters between Cuba and Florida strengthening would be possible but wind shear will begin to counter that later tonight, hopefully weakening some more.

Like we have been saying, at some point, the turn to the NW and N will occur within the next 24 hours. Exactly when becomes extremely crucial as to where Irma crosses the Florida Coastline. 

Irma may be moving NNW paralleling the extreme SW coast of Florida which means, even as Irma gets closer to the coastline, we still may not know exactly where the landfall will ultimately end up being. We will have to wait for an actual northerly turn. 

It appears very likely now that the entire Tampa Bay area will be dealing with hurricane conditions Sunday night into the first part of Monday.

The continued westward trend now puts the storm surge threat in place for our entire coast and Tampa Bay. 

Preparations locally should be brought to completion in anticipation of hurricane force winds among other hazards. 

Hurricane hunters have found that Irma is going through an eyewall replacement cycle and is a powerful category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. 

While there will be some fluctuations, Irma is expected to remain a major hurricane until landfall.

In preparation of Hurricane Irma, seven Greater Tampa Bay nonprofits, led by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, has set up the Tampa Bay Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund so local residents and beyond can aid in the regional recovery effort. Donors can go here to donate. 

Walmart has also pledged $1 million towards relief and recovery efforts. 

LATEST UPDATES:

7:30 p.m. - Gov. Rick Scott held a press briefing in Tallahassee starting shortly after 6 p.m. to provide an update on information relating to preparation for Hurricane Irma.

7 p.m. - FHP has reported that the Skyway Bridge is now closed due to high winds. 

6 p.m. - Duke Energy is preparing to send over 1,400 Midwest line workers, contractors and related support personnel to Florida and the Carolinas to help repair power outages expected as a result of Hurricane Irma. The crews will be deployed in two waves: the first wave will leave Saturday, Sept. 9, and the second wave will leave on Sunday, Sept. 10. 

After leaving their home areas, the crews will report to an area outside of Florida to meet with other utility crews and await further instructions. From there, they will be dispatched to storm-damaged areas in Florida. 

During this deployment, regular non-emergency work throughout the Duke Energy service territories may be rescheduled. However, company officials plan to keep enough workers on hand locally for any emergencies that may occur.  

4:54 p.m. - Pinellas County will be shutting down access to enter barrier islands at 6 a.m. Sunday. The restriction applies to all individuals and businesses, and includes all barrier islands from the Dunedin Causeway to Tierra Verde. Individuals exiting the barrier islands will not be restricted.

A re-entry decision will be made and announced after the hurricane passes and safety assessments are completed.

4:12 p.m. - FDOT with the Florida Highway Patrol has implementred a limited Emergency Shoulder Use (ESU) plan for Hurricane Irma evacuations on I-4 from Tampa to Orlando. Motorists should only use the left shoulder when direced by law enforcement and highway signs. 

  • There is no contraflow or one-way operation in use on Florida state roadways
  • No other state roadways are currently approved for shoulder use
  • Although there are heavy pockets of evacuation traffic in some areas; traffic is flowing on this section of roadway
  • Law enforcement urges motorists to use caution when driving on the shoulder – right shoulder use is prohibited
  • MAX SPEED on the shoulder is 40 MPH.
  • FDOT has 13 Traffic Management Centers where hundreds of DOT workers are monitoring traffic cameras 24/7 to ensure traffic flows continue and evacuations proceed without interruption.

2:21 p.m. - The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) continues running bus service through 5:00 pm today.  Service to Pinellas County evacuation shelters is provided free of charge.  Riders simply need to tell drivers that they are going to a shelter and the ride will be free.  Pinellas Emergency Management wants to remind riders who are going to shelters to please bring necessary bedding as shelters will not have sheets, blankets and pillows.

PSTA bus service will not be running on Sunday September, 10 2017. 

1:44 p.m. - The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is suspending call center operations at 1:30 p.m. Saturday until further notice, due to the potential danger of Hurricane Irma. 2-1-1, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and additional lines will be routed temporarily to a partner 2-1-1 in another state.

The Crisis Center will still maintain their TransCare Medical Transportation services, which is part of the local EMS/9-1-1 system. However, TransCare will only be responding to 9-1-1 calls. 

1:42 p.m. - Wawa to update list of stores opening before, during, and after storm. 

12:50 p.m. - University of Tampa has extended is close dates through Thursday, Sept. 14. Staff to report on Sept. 13. 

12:20 p.m. - Hillsborough, Hernando, Pinellas, Pasco schools to remain closed through Tuesday, Sept. 12.

12:14 p.m. - Due to anticipated severe weather associated with the storm, the Bay Pines VAHCS in St. Petersburg will transfer approximately 100 medical/surgical and psychiatry patients currently admitted for care at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center to the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Orlando VA Medical Center, and Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville.

Noon - University of Tampa extends closure until Thursday, Sept. 14.

10:38 a.m. - The City of Tampa is now under a Hurricane Warning. With sustained winds of 40mph or greater bridges will close and police and fire rescue will not be able to respond. Please take immediate action to prepare for high winds, heavy rains, and potential flooding.

10:27 a.m. - Bayfront Health Brooksville/Spring Hill hospitals remain open. Elective procedures for September 11th have been canceled. We will reschedule elective services and surgeries as soon as possible after the storm. 

9:34 a.m. - More emergency shelters open in Pinellas County. Click here for list. No sandbag sites open Saturday. No trash recycling service Saturday. 

8:40 a.m. - Pinellas County has issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in Zone B, according to St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, who tweeted the alert Saturday morning. Click here to find your zone and for emergency information

8 a.m. - 7-Eleven is donating 1,600 cases of free bottles of water to Tampa Bay residents in Oldsmar. Residents can stop by and stock up on the free water until supplies last. 7-Eleven will start handing out water at 8 a.m. at 3855 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. 

Make sure to watch our Tropical Updates each hour at :49

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