The biggest news about Irma is really how big it is.
Thank God, Irma has quickly weakened, at its core, to a tropical storm. I have relatives in Florida: my step-brother lives in Fort Myers, less than an hour north of where the storm made its first terrifying landfall in Marco Island. He stayed home and rode it out, despite being just blocks east of the mandatory evacuation zone.
Another brother, who lives in north-central Florida bugged out days ago and is staying with our brother in New Hampshire. My niece was forced to evacuate on Sunday from the Tampa Bay area to Orlando. I also have a brother in Vero Beach, and my wife has relatives in the panhandle. You could say our family has Florida well covered.
I haven’t heard from my family in Fort Myers since just before 5pm yesterday. I assume they are without power.
Those are the people closest to the eye of the storm.
I live 450 miles north of Fort Myers, and about 300 miles north of Tampa, in central Georgia. We woke this morning to lashing rain and wind. From where I’m sitting in my home office, it looks like 30-40 mph steady, with gusts up to 50. That’s 300 miles from the center of the storm.
As Irma walks her way up into the panhandle and Alabama, I imagine those on the coast will suffer tropical storm conditions for hundreds of miles, with dangerous storm surges, torrential rain, and high wind. It won’t be catastrophic, and I pray it won’t linger like Harvey to cause enormous flooding. But this storm is huge.
We expect for these storm conditions to continue all day today and possibly into tomorrow. Schools are closed today and tomorrow, and many evacuees from Florida and Savannah are holed up here. Savannah residents I’m sure can go home, but who wants to drive in this?
Those of us in central Georgia who must work–public safety, medical, some military and contractors at Robins AFB, and even some retail–will do our best to cope with the storm and offer our best hospitality to those stuck here for another day or so.
Just to put this in some terms people not from here would understand. Irma is, right now, affecting the entire state of Florida, and a huge swath of Georgia, up to Atlanta, and also a slice of Alabama. Florida has 1,350 miles of coastline, and every bit of it is consumed by this storm. Stretched out, that reaches from Fort Pierce, Florida to Boston, Mass.
This truly is a monster storm.