Long lines at the gas station and empty aisles at the grocery store are what most Tampa Bay residents are finding as they prepare for Hurricane Irma, now a Category 5, expected to reach Florida over the weekend if it stays its course. The Florida Keys started evacuating yesterday. Governor Scott has declared it a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties. 

Irma is one of the strongest storms on record in the Atlantic

Steve Jerve, Chief Meteorologist for WFLA in Tampa, says, "Irma is one of the strongest storms on record in the Atlantic at the moment, and it is expected to remain a major hurricane in the coming days.  A lot can change with tropical systems, but although this can change, there doesn’t appear to be anything that will weaken the storm that much." 

Cancelled Events 

Bryan Adams, scheduled for a concert at Clearwater's Coachman Park has cancelled his event. Both Glazer Children's Museum and the Tampa Theatre have postponed their weekend events. The Tampa Boat Show has rescheduled their event to October 13-15, 2017 at the Tampa Convention Center.  The Florida State Fairgrounds has cancelled their Jurassic Park.

Before you head out the door for your planned event, check  WFLA News Channel 8 ​for weather updates and possible cancellations. 

School Closings

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas Public County Schools have announced closings and the University of Tampa has cancelled classes starting tomorrow through Monday. The University of South Florida has also just announced that they'll be closed tomorrow and Friday. 

Plan Ahead Now 

Water and Food

One gallon of water per person per day is a good base, both for drinking and sanitation. Having water is essential, the average person could survive three days without in extreme conditions, but you don’t want to put yourself in that position if you're able to avoid it. A seven day supply for a storm like this is recommended. 

At least a three-day supply for each person of non-perishable, typically canned, food is needed for those preparing for the storm. Make sure to have a can opener! Take into accommodation of babies, who may need formula and clean bottles as well for hurricane planning.

Personal Medication

In addition to the individual medication and typical first aid items, consider bringing 


* flashlight



*battery-powered radio 

Don’t forget your pets!

Your pets need supplies during times of emergency. Stocking up on food includes your furry, scaly, or feathered members, too! Paperwork for vaccinations and registration, prescribed pet medications, and ID for your pet may help with transporting your pet to a safe area. Most pet-friendly shelters will only accept cats and dogs with paperwork, so get the information ready now. 

Evacuation Routes

County-wide evacuation maps are available on Florida Disaster. Evacuation routes can be found through Hillsborough County and HEAT, Hillsborough County’s Hurricane Evacuation Assessment Tool. Residents in need of assistance using HEAT should contact Hillsborough County Office Emergency Management at (813) 236-3800 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Evacuation routes of Pinellas County can be found online or residents can enter their address and be provided with their evacuation level and also the closest shelter, special needs shelter, and hotel accommodations.Pinellas Emergency Management can be contacted at (727) 464-3800  between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Stay Safe 

The last time Florida had a hurricane pass by and make landfall was 12 years ago with Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Since then, Florida has been unscathed by the harsh winds and heavy downpour of rain that hurricanes are known for, but it is now crucial to seriously plan for the possibility of Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida. Jerve adds, "The northerly turn in the forecast track puts Florida in the position of having some effect on virtually all of the state. The best data is going into the forecast, and it’s still days away, but make sure your own personal plan is in place, and take this storm seriously."  

Stay connected to Hurricane Irma and all Things to Do in Tampa with 813area.com and 727area.com with help from our friends at WFLA, bringing you the latest on the track of the storm. Stay Safe Tampa Bay! #hurricaneirma