Oldsmar officials urging caution as powerful Hurricane Irma approaches Florida

Screenshot of Hurricane irma from Weather.com

This Weather.com screenshot shows the latest tracking forecast for Hurricane Irma, which is currently classified as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds measured at 185 mph, according to site.

City of Oldsmar officials are urging residents to exercise caution as powerful Hurricane Irma approaches the state of Florida.

Governor Rick Scott already declared a state of emergency in advance of Irma, which is currently classified as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds measured at 185 mph, according to Weather.com.

Evacuations have been ordered for the Keys and other areas in South Florida as the storm crosses the Caribbean on a track that has the entire state in its cone of potential paths.

While no evacuations or state of emergencies have been declared for Pinellas County, Oldsmar Fire Chief Dean O’Nale reminded residents of the potential dangers the community at the top of Old Tampa Bay would face should a severe storm hit.

“Right now, we’re looking at three different scenarios,” O’Nale said during the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

“Obviously, the best scenario for us would be if the track shifted to the east a little bit. The worst case scenario would be if we had a track shift to the west.”

Screenshot of Pinellas County evacuation zones

This screenshot from the Pinellas County Emergency management website shows the City of Oldsmar’s evacuation levels.

O’Nale went on to say “with the interaction of the land, if it goes to the west, we could potentially see a Category 3 hurricane come up the west coast, which as we know form our air modeling is the worst case scenario for Oldsmar.”

He said a storm of that size would bring an expected 10-15 feet of storm surge to the city’s shoreline, and if there are evacuations, we could eventually see a Level C evacuation for Pinellas County.

According to some reports on Wednesday, the storm is expected to take a more easterly path after it turns northward over the weekend.

For more information on evacuation zones and other local storm advisories, visit the Pinellas County Emergency Management website.

The City started giving away sandbags beginning at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

As of noon, they were out of bags and advising residents to bring heavy duty contractor garbage bags, old pillowcases and even tied-up tee shirts to hold sand.

Oldsmar is giving away free sand in advance of Hurricane Irma, but residents will need to bring their own bags.

Bags were being limited to twenty per property, and you must present an ID or proof of an Oldsmar address to receive the free sand.

On Wednesday afternoon it was announced that Pinellas County schools would be closed on Thursday and Friday.

As everyone nervously prepares for the storm, mobbing gas stations and grocery stores in search of water and supplies, Oldsmar officials reminded residents to be cautious, stay calm and be prepared.

“Listen to you local Emergency Operations Center for updates,” Mayor Doug Bevis advised at the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting.

For more information of disaster preparedness in Oldsmar, visit this section of the City’s website.

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