Photo Credit: US National Hurricane Center
US National Hurricane Center data Tuesday evening Sept. 5 2017 EDT

Residents of the East and Gulf coasts in Florida were urged Tuesday night by meteorologists, local and national authorities one and all to “prepare now for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.”

Approximately 535,000 Jews in the South Florida – Greater Miami, comprising nearly 10 percent of the population of the metropolitan area, as of September 2014 and the third largest Jewish population in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. Many Israelis ex-pats who move to the United States choose to live in Florida because the climate and ambiance is similar to that of Tel Aviv and Herzliya.

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The storm is already heading towards the small northern Leeward islands, including Antigua and Barbuda, and is tracking towards Cuba, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida. No one is taking any chances, and stores are quickly emptying out.

Michael Lowry, UCAR scientist, @FEMA task force lead, tweeted a graphic of the storm:

Irma is now a Category Five hurricane packing winds of up to 185 miles per hour in a westerly direction at 15 miles per hour. But the storm could reach as much as 225 miles per hour, according to MIT meteorology Professor Kerry Emanuel.

“People who are living [in the Florida Keys] or have property there are very scared, and they should be,” Emanuel said.

Key West international airport said Tuesday it will close Wednesday night to all commercial flights, according to CBS News.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade county warned residents to be prepared to voluntarily evacuate Miami Beach and much of the county’s coastal area, beginning as early as Wednesday evening. He also recommended that residents stock up at least a three days’ supply of food and water.

The storm is expected to reach Florida by the weekend; Governor Rick Scott told residents to prepare now for this “incredibly dangerous storm” as officials already begin to watch for storm surge and high winds.

“We are preparing for Irma to directly impact our state,” the governor told reporters, “and while it’s too early to tell where exactly the storm will hit … do not sit and wait to prepare. Get prepared now.”

Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday for all 67 counties in his state, asking the federal government for funding to expedite assistance for emergency management officials who are preparing resources for communities.

“This morning I requested President [Donald] Trump declare a pre-landfall emergency for the entire state of Florida,” the governor said. “I just heard from the White House and I have been told President Trump has approved this declaration.”

The American Red Cross is also sending 1,000 volunteers to the state ahead of the storm. In addition, the governor has activated the state’s National Guard, calling on 100 members to already deploy across the state, and 7,000 more to report for duty Friday, when the storm is expected to hit.

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, due to the unusually warm water that exists in that part of the Atlantic.

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