Forecasts show nobody in Florida is off the hook from Irma
University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says Irma "could easily be the most costly storm in U.S. history, which is saying a lot considering what just happened two weeks ago" in Texas.
And former hurricane hunter Jeff Masters says both high winds and large storm surges will damage expensive properties from Miami all the way up the Florida peninsula and beyond. That includes President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Masters says that if Irma "goes right up the Gold Coast like the current models are saying, then the Gold Coast is going to become the Mud Coast."
The National Hurricane Center's latest long-term forecast moved Irma's northward track slightly eastward from the center of the peninsula, but that doesn't mean much. Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen says people should "stop paying attention to the skinny black line," because the margin-of-error for the storm four days out is wider than the entire state of Florida, so things can change.
Bottom line, Feltgen says, is that nobody in Florida is off the hook.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is preparing to shut down two Florida nuclear plants that could be in the path of Hurricane Irma. Additional inspectors are on-site at the Turkey Point plant south of Miami, and the St. Lucie plant along the state's eastern coast.
NRC spokesman Roger Hannah says both nuclear plants are preparing for the storm, checking to ensure any outside equipment is tied down or moved and emergency generators are working and secure.
Hannah said both plants were operating as usual Wednesday, with plans to shut down if necessary ahead of the hurricane's expected landfall in Florida late Saturday or early Sunday.
Current projections place Turkey Point, above the Florida Keys near Homestead, Florida, directly in the hurricane's path.