School districts in South Florida are closing ahead of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that is still in the Caribbean but could affect Florida later this week.
The Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach county school districts announced Tuesday that they will close schools on Thursday and Friday. Miami-Dade county will start evacuations on Wednesday.
Monroe County, which includes Key West, will close schools and government offices as early as Wednesday. Mandatory evacuations for visitors is expected to start at sunrise on Wednesday, the county said.
[UPDATE (Sept. 6): Hillsborough County schools in Tampa also announced Wednesday that it will close on Thursday and Friday. Its schools will be used as shelters for evacuees, the district said.]
In anticipation of the storm, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Hurricane Irma threatens the coast a little more than a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, causing widespread damage on the Gulf Coast and devastating flooding in the Houston area.
More than 1 million students were affected by Hurricane Harvey and many districts are still closed, according to the Texas Education Agency. Houston, the state’s largest school district, is expected to reopen on Sept. 11.
With wind speeds of up to 185 miles per hour, Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, according to the Washington Post.
Photo caption: In this geocolor image captured by the GOES-16 satellite, and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Irma approaches Anguilla on Sept. 6. The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has roared into the Caribbean, its winds ripping off roofs and knocking out phones. It’s on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida.
--NOAA via AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.