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Florida Braces for Hurricane Irma’s Impact

September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma's likely path will take it along Florida's southern tip. Graphic: National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Irma's likely path will take it along Florida's southern tip. Graphic: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Irma, already one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever develop in the Atlantic, will likely make landfall on the U.S. mainland by the end of the week. In preparation, state and federal agencies are already declaring an emergency on the ground.

Similar to a declaration made for Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has temporarily suspended several trucking regulations in the states in and around the expected path of Irma. Carriers and drivers in direct support of relief efforts related to Hurricane Irma are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations. By lifting regulations, FMCSA aims to ease the flow of emergency goods, fuel, and aid to and from the region.

The suspended regulations include those concerned with hours of service, inspection, repair, and maintenance, hazardous materials transportation, driving, parking, and other health and safety standards.

States covered by the Irma temporary suspension currently include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FMCSA has also set up page with all the latest transportation updates related to Hurricane Irma.

The same suspension of regulations was declared for 26 states during Hurricane Harvey and it is still in effect. FMCSA’s Hurricane Harvey page is available here.

On Sept. 5, President Trump declared an emergency in the state of Florida, Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Florida Governor Rick Scott also declared an emergency in the state and ordered the Florida National Guard to report for duty.

Irma is expected to make landfall on the southern tip of Florida. Mandatory evacuations began in Key West and more mandatory evacuations are likely as the storm nears. To help keep traffic moving, Gov. Scott suspended all tolls in the state for the duration of the storm’s impact on Florida.

Rated a Category 5 Hurricane, with sustained winds of over 185 miles per hour and considerable size, Irma is currently the strongest storm ever seen in the Atlantic basin. While it is still a few days away from hitting Florida, current models show a likely landfall of either late Saturday or early Sunday, hitting Southern Florida before possibly moving up the East Coast.

While Hurricane Harvey was known mostly for the incredible deluge of up to 50 inches of rain it brought down in some parts, Hurricane Irma is likely to be defined by its destructive winds and size, as it is only projected to produce 15 inches of rain at most.

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