A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the city of Miami Beach ahead of Irma, which could reach southeast Florida this weekend as a major category four hurricane, officials said on Wednesday night.
Miami-Dade County said it had issued a mandatory evacuation order for Miami Beach, beginning at noon ET on Thursday. “Miami Beach businesses and residents should evacuate to a relative or friends’ home at a safer location,” the city said in a statement.
Residents who are unable to arrange alternative accommodations may go to shelters in safer areas. The statement emphasized that no hurricane shelters will be available in the city of Miami Beach to ride out the storm.
“Please take into consideration the high volume of residents and additional low-lying areas evacuating; traffic congestion is expected,” the statement said. Bus transportation to shelters on the mainland will be provided by Miami-Dade County until 3 hours prior to the arrival of tropical storm-force winds.
As of 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the center of Hurricane Irma was located about 70 miles (115 kilometers) northwest of San Juan in Puerto Rico. The storm is forecast to pass near the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas before reaching the Florida area.
“The threat of direct hurricane impacts in Florida over the weekend and early next week has increased,” said Daniel Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. “Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula on Thursday.”
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