Two companies of an Army Reserve helicopter regiment stationed at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport are bugging out in advance of Hurricane Irma.
About two dozen Black Hawk helicopters and some 50 soldiers assigned to A and F Companies of the Army's 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment will be leaving because of the storm, said Army Capt. Matthew Roman, an Army Reserve Aviation spokesman.
No decision has been made yet on where the helicopters and troops will go, said Roman, who declined to say when the move will take place citing operational security concerns.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach,
including the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay. Maximum sustained winds are near 175 mph
At 11 a.m., the eye of Hurricane Irma was about 120 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. The Category 5 storm continues to move to the west-northwest at 16 mph.
Here are the lastest computer model tracks for Hurricane Irma from Weather Underground. More here.
With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the Coast Guard has shipped out helicopters, planes and a cutter from its locations in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
For homeowners bracing for Hurricane Irma, the window is now closed to buy insurance from Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
As of 11 a.m., the state insurer is not writing any new policies or adding additional coverage, according to the insurer's website. Citizens does this when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning for a tropical storm or hurricane.
Mayor Rick Kriseman signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in the city of St. Petersburg on Thursday.
This declaration gives Kriseman special authority to take action in response to Hurricane Irma, according to a news release from the St. Petersburg Police Department.
It also puts into effect a local order against price gouging. It is now against city ordinance to charge more than the average retail price for any
goods or services sold during the emergency, according to the release.
By Tony Marrero
Times Staff Writer
As Irma bears down on Florida, the state's fate depends on when the storm makes a relatively sharp right-hander to the north.
The center of the current forecast track by the National Hurricane Center calls for Irma to make landfall in southeast Florida, but the cone of uncertainty still included the entire peninsula as of the 11 a.m. Thursday advisory.
News release from the Emergency Operations Center:
Hillsborough County, Fla. (Sept. 7, 2017) - Hillsborough County is making sandbags available at 1 p.m. for residents preparing for Hurricane Irma, and more sandbags are on the way later today.