In preparation for Hurricane Irma’s assault on South Florida on Sunday, police are going door to door telling people to leave to avoid life-threatening rains, winds, and flooding. The mass exodus is creating large traffic jams on Interstates 95 and 75 and the Florida Turnpike, which can be seen on this live Florida traffic map.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Brevard County, and Monroe County. They affect nearly 650,000 people in the Miami-Dade county alone, and more than 1.3 million overall. (Thirteen counties are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, according to BuzzFeed.)
The state’s various evacuation orders together make up one of the largest attempted mass evacuations ever. (Some are calling it the largest mass evacuation in US history.)
Analysis by Climate Central shows that the Florida storm surge from hurricane Irma could endanger millions, and result in billions in property damage.
Climate Central has created the resources to help anyone remaining in the area visually understand how dangerous the flooding will be in their neighborhood and take safety measures accordingly.
These simulations are based on the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment (CERA) storm surge and wave model using data from the National Hurricane Center forecast track from Friday morning (Advisory 37). CERA partners include multiple leading universities and federal agencies.
The videos use Google Earth to simulate what the these storm surge forecasts would appear like in different South Florida neighborhoods.
The height above mean sea level for each simulation is shown in the titles.
As local topography varies, these values translate to approximately 7-10 feet of water above ground in many areas according to the Storm Surge Warming forecasts from the National Weather Service.
Downtown Miami (13.5 feet)
Coral Gables (12.5 feet)
South Miami (12 feet)
Palmetto Estates (14.5 feet)
Kendall (11.5 feet)
Miami International Airport (7.5 feet)
The last major hurricane to hit the South Florida area was Hurricane Matthew in 2016, in which 1.5 million Floridians resided in mandatory evacuation zones. Matthew changed course last minute, mostly sparing Florida but wreaking havoc on parts of Georgia and South Carolina.
Irma is expected to cause catastrophic damage and has already been one for the record books, sustaining 185 mph winds for more than 24 hours, a record length of time for a hurricane in the Atlantic.
“I’ve been here 60 years. I’ve never heard of this kind of evacuation,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez told reporters.
Another resource to use approximates the forecast surge level — threatened neighborhoods are shown in blue