Hurricane Irma Forces Florida Evacuations

Tolls Suspended Across Florida’s Turnpike, Other Toll Roads

Fort Lauderdale – Tolls on Florida’s Turnpike, and all toll roads in the Sunshine State, have been suspended as Hurricane Irma makes its approach through the Caribbean. Governor Rick Scott made the announcement mid-afternoon Tuesday, saying the suspension of tolls will make it easier for Floridians and visitors to “more easily be able to prepare for any potential storm impacts … and quickly and safely evacuate when necessary.”

Pompano Service Plaza gas station

Workers at service plaza gas stations in South Florida, including the Shell at the Pompano Beach Plaza, pictured here in a 2016 file photo, reported plenty of fuel available, with no expected interruption in the delivery of new supplies.

Hurricane Irma has blown up into a super hurricane, with winds of 185 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in MIami. That makes Irma the second-most powerful storm in history, only behind Hurricane Allen, which struck the Caribbean in 1980. At one point, Allen had winds of 190 miles per hour.

Hurricane Irma forecast track

Hurricane Irma’s forecast track, from the National Hurricane Center, issued at 5 p.m. on September 5.

For its part, Hurricane Irma is due to strike the northern Leeward Islands, east of Puerto Rico, tonight, and Puerto Rico, itself, on Wednesday. South Florida and the Florida Keys are currently in the forecast “cone”, or the projected path of the storm, which includes a margin of error. But Key West currently has a target on it, as the NHC forecast takes the storm’s path nearly directly over the island by Sunday.

Evacuation Orders Planned Wednesday In South Florida

That forecast track has forced officials set planned mandatory evacuations of the Keys beginning on Wednesday for visitors and residents, although the precise time of Wednesday’s expected evacuation order had not been determined.

Government offices in Miami-Dade County, along with schools, will be closed on Thursday and Friday so residents may prepare for the storm or evacuate. All school and park activities were also suspended. However, county officials had not yet issued any evacuation orders.

In Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, location of the home office of TurnpikeInfo.com, government emergency operations centers were activated, but no evacuation orders had yet been issued as of Tuesday evening.

Elsewhere, traffic on Florida’s Turnpike appeared light in most areas, and gas stations at service plazas in South Florida reported fuel available at both the Snapper Creek Service Plaza in Miami-Dade and the Pompano Beach Service Plaza in Broward County.