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2017 hurricane season

Making Your Water Safe After Irma

Sep 14, 2017
Florida Department of Health, FloridaHealth.gov

Several Florida counties - and some Tampa Bay area communities - remain under boil water notices after Hurricane Irma. The Florida Department of Health has tips for people living in those places.

Jackson Cardarelli / WUSF Public Media

Days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, 24 public shelters still remain open across six counties in the Tampa Bay area.

Fifteen of the open facilities are special-needs assistance shelters.

disasterassistance.gov

Hurricane Irma victims in the Tampa Bay area may be able to get some extra help from the federal government.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

Polk County took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, with the storm hitting Lakeland just after midnight Sunday night.

The winds caused widespread damage -- but no reported injuries -- throughout the county, toppling massive trees onto houses and power lines.

About 80 percent of Polk is without power, and towering piles of debris line the roads.

Screenshot of MyPasco app.

Pasco County residents can now take photos of Hurricane Irma damage on their property and upload them to the free “MyPasco” app.

Those photos will be plotted on a map to help with damage assessment.

Hurricane Irma's projected path is moving west and state leaders are urging Floridians to prepare for the worst.

Evacuation orders have been issued and shelters are open.  

Here's a list of shelters, evacuation zones and other need-to-know information as Hurricane Irma approaches: 

Updated at 2:23 a.m. ET on Sunday

After battering Cuba on Saturday morning, the eye of Hurricane Irma has its sights set on Florida as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center early Sunday. The NHC's latest forecast shows the storm's center shifting west from Miami, and even Tampa, to target St. Petersburg.

Florida braces for direct hit

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The biggest danger to life and property from Hurricane Irma could come from storm surge that forces seawater inland, which could topple houses, isolate residents who don't evacuate and make drowning an imminent threat, the National Hurricane Center is warning.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The National Hurricane Center says it's looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region starting Sunday. But that doesn't mean Miami area is in the clear. It's not.

Updated at 6 a.m. ET Saturday

Hurricane Irma is again a Category 4 storm as it slowly moves along the Cuban coast. The storm made landfall on the Camaguey archipelago of Cuba late Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the hurricane's center was just off the northern coast near central Cuba. The report puts Irma's traveling speed at 12 mph, about 245 miles south-southeast of Miami.

About 5.6 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate; forecasters expect the hurricane to hit Florida early Sunday morning.

Florida health officials say after major storms and natural disasters, there’s an increase of carbon monoxide poisoning cases, and they're informing people why and how to prevent it aheadof Hurricane Irma. 

Lake Okeechobee is currently at 13.7 feet, which is a slight increase over the course of the week, despite days of water releases into the estuaries surrounding the lake.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not at this point believe the aging Hoover Dike is at risk of breach, there are three places where they expect significant amount of water to splash over and potentially stream over the top of those sites.

The Florida Department Of Corrections has started evacuating some of their smaller facilities in South Florida.

Hundreds of people are housed in a large room with computer monitors and giant TV screens lining the walls overhead. Lots of people are on computers, and even more are walking around wearing navy emergency response team shirts. It’s a calm but busy Friday afternoon at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The center in Tallahassee is at its highest activation: Level 1

Key West has seen a lot of hurricanes over the years — but the island itself hasn't had a direct hit since 1919 (though there were a couple of near misses, with Hurricane Georges moving across the Lower Keys in 1998 and Wilma swamping the island from the west in 2005).

Some islanders attribute that string to the supernatural - the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

Irma? There's an app for that.

Officials are encouraging South Florida residents to download smartphone apps for last-minute storm prep and to keep updated during the hurricane and its aftermath.

Among the suggested apps:

Florida Power and Light app: To monitor power outages

Florida 511: For real-time traffic updates

Gas Buddy: Shows gas stations and prices based on location

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Pasco County is the first in the Tampa Bay region to open a space at a hurricane shelter for registered sex offenders.

Sheriff Chris Nocco said they'll be given space at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Hurricane Irma's full impact on the Tampa Bay is still not clear, but a Pasco County group wants to make sure the homeless stay safe, too.

Raine Johns runs the Coalition for the Homeless in Pasco County. She and a group of volunteers canvassed the county this week to let homeless individuals and families know what their hurricane shelter options are.

Hurricane Irma is hovering somewhere between being the most- and second-most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. It follows Harvey, which dumped trillions of gallons of water on South Texas. And now, Hurricane Jose is falling into step behind Irma, and gathering strength.

Is this what climate change scientists predicted?

In a word, yes. Climate scientists such as Michael Mann at Penn State says, "The science is now fairly clear that climate change will make stronger storms stronger." Or wetter.

With the whole state on alert from Hurricane Irma, it is important to know common hurricane terminology. The most important, and yet confusing, of which is the difference between a hurricane watch and warning.

In the simplest terms, if you are living in a county under a hurricane warning, you can expect hurricane conditions to affect your area. Whereas, if your county is under a hurricane watch, hurricane conditions are possible.

Samara Sodos / Port Tampa Bay

Supplying gasoline to evacuating Floridians is a top priority according to the governor. 

That has meant an accelerated tempo at Port Tampa Bay, which provides the gas, aviation fuel, diesel and oil to Central Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

As Hurricane Irma closes in on Florida, and despite a slight shift, counties in the southwestern part of the state are bracing for impact. 


Gas Buddy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the state is working to get gasoline to areas experiencing shortages in advance of Hurricane Irma.

In the meantime, a free mobile app may help Floridians find out which stations still have fuel.

This year Florida lawmakers changed the way the state building codes are updated. There are concerns the new law could weaken the integrity of Florida homes, in order to cut construction costs. In the wake of Harvey, those concerns are taking on a new significance.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

In Houston, reservoirs swollen by rain from Hurricane Harvey were opened early Monday, a move that was expected to flood more homes — but one that the Army Corps of Engineers says is needed to limit the scope of the disaster that's threatening lives and property in Texas.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Harvey regained tropical storm strength as it drifted in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas early Thursday and forecasters said it could become a hurricane.

Trouble Brewing in the Tropics Times Three

Aug 18, 2017

UPDATE THURSDAY 5 PM:  Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft data confirmed that Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine had became sufficiently organized to be classified as the eighth named storm of the season. Tropical Storm Harvey will likely move into the Caribbean over the weekend, and could even become a hurricane before approaching Central America or Mexico. There will likely be no threat to Florida or the United States from Harvey, but the tropical wave behind it is a potential concern next week.

The 2017 hurricane season, already forecast to churn out more storms than usual, is likely to get even busier.

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its forecast, just as the season peak nears, calling for 14 to 19 names storms, five to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes with winds topping 111 mph. That’s slightly above the 11 to 17 named storms and two to four major hurricanes predicted at the start of the season.

NOAA

Hurricane Franklin has made landfall on the coast of Mexico.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a more active hurricane season than initially expected. The announcement comes as Florida prepares for the peak months of the season – August through October.

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