tv Lockup San Antonio - Extended Stay MSNBC September 9, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
hey there, everyone. i'm alex here at msnbc headquarters. it is 2:00 a.m. in the east. 11:00 out west. you're watching special coverage of hurricane irma. irma is making her way towards the florida keys. winds up to 120 miles an hour and it very well could become stronger before making landfall on florida's west coast around sunday night but first we're tracking the storm's path. it is heading right towards the keys later on this morning.
fierce winds, intense rain, life threatening storm surges, as well as the possibility of tornadoes all ahead for florida. storm surges could reach up to 15 feet in some areas. that is raising major alarm in cities like naples and ft. myers. more than 7 million people in florida and georgia are on evacuation orders. that is one of the biggest evacuations in u.s. history. for those that decided to take shelter, power outages are already soaring. more than 200,000 have lost power but expect it to climb into the millions before this is all over. kristen is in ft. myers. we last met about ten hours ago. you were in a trailer home there. there were a lot of concern about those who decided to hunker down and stay there. but we are just getting word that it is back to a category four storm. that is official from the national hurricane center. no longer category three. talk about what you are feeling right there.
>> alex, people really shouldn't focus so much on that number three, four. it's really just a few miles per hour difference between the two. and both are major hurricanes. so whatever this actually comes a shore as, it is going to be as one person said today a monster. so we're in ft. myers beach now. we moved out to the coast for a little while. we'll be moving back inland as soon as it gets dangerous out here. we're seeing these outer bans come through. so the rain and the winds picking up. just gusty winds at this point. when you think about how much more powerful these winds are going to get, it's frightening. then the other big issue that we're talking so much about here is the storm surge. ft. myers beach right along the gulf of mexico, the water doesn't have far to come. we're outside a hotel. the hotel is closed. tourists have been evacuated for several days now. but there are some of the people who work in the hotel who have come here as their place to
shelter. so this is where thaey're going to be hunkering down. it is up, so there's nothing below. this first floor is empty. there's a little tiki bar. the water expected to go through there. that may not be here after all is said and done. we're going to see the worst of the storm surge after the actual eye and storm passes and that's when we'll kind of get the water being pushed on shore. officials say yit going to come in fast. it could potentially be between 10 and 15 feet in parts of southwest florida. they're saying that could be catastrophic, alex. >> kristen, as you look to that hotel that's in front of you, how many stories is it and do you see boarded up woindows hav they drawn the curtains in case glass shatters due to high winds. >> we got here after dark. it is about ten stories high.
they don't have storm shutters on it. but obviously the windows, you know, are closed. we were talking to someone who's staying here. i suggested since i've gone through these before if it makes you feel safer, put a mattress up against the windows because that could be a little bit of a buffer. it's not going to be enough if this comes in as a very powerful storm. so their plan here is to go to an interior stairwell that doesn't have any windows at all. they have some chairs set up there. they do have, you know, several flights set up where people can then go sit inside this concrete block interior stairwell. >> okay. well, that at least is good advice for them. kristen there in ft. my erers florida, thank you for that. in miami have the very latest. good morning your time. how are the conditions progressing where you are? >> alex, in fact, we just had a
bunch of wind gusts come through here. it's been rather quiet over the last couple of hours, but all f a sudden it just picked up within the last 20 minutes or so. we've been seeing flashes across the miami skylineere. blue and green. basically transformers that have been blowing out throughout the night. basically because of the high winds and those sheets of rain that we were seeing here. there are parts of the city where we can see lights once were on. now they are off. as you mentioned, about 200,000 people in florida without power. about half of those are here in miami-dade county alone. frankly, we're only seeing the beginning of irma at this point. these are sort of the outer bands that are moving through. we are not even seeing the brunt of the storm that is expected to hit us at this point. they are expecting as you said millions of people to lose power here in florida. that's according to florida power and light who is the electricity provider here in this area. earlier today we were out on key biscayne. we were out in downtown miami.
we were talking to folks out there who were coming out to sort of see the choppy waves in biscayne bay and irma beginning to move into the city. they told us that they were in fact slightly relieved to see that track of irma pushing further west. they said they felt very bad about the fact that people on the west coast of florida were going to be dealing with this, but they were feeling relieved that the east coast of florida perhaps would not be seeing the brunt and the worst that this storm had to offer. >> i'm looking behind you and i see all the lights. i think despite the transformers being blown, there at least is some power there. we're toll the neighbors to the south throughout the keys there is no power. this according to the florida electric company. no power in the keys right now which makes just the ominous nature of a storm of this magnitude coming their way in total darkness all the more fearful. that said, folks should have
evacuated. tt point how many bepeople do you sense defied evacuation orders? do you have any idea how many thought this is going to move to the west, we should stay put? >> we were in downtown miami. it's evacuation zone b. there were not a lot of people around. i've lived in florida for a long time. i lived in miami for ten years. i lived in naples for four years. i can tell you people have taken some storm seriously in a way i have not seen before and i've covered about 20 hurricanes. i can tell you in downtown miami very, very few people around and that's an area usually bustling with people. miami beach also quite deserted. people did heed this. you're always going to have that handful of people that say i'm going to hunker down and be in my place and i'm not going to leave. for the most part people heeded that and you saw that in the numbers of people showing up at the shelters.
they could not open shelters fast enough here in florida. so many of them were filling up. people were taking this seriously. they were leaving where they were living and going to shelters because they thought i don't want to take that risk. i don't want to take that chance of whatever irma has in store for us. >> they were opening shelters. it went from 260 yesterday to 290 now. thank you for joining us. here in studio, meteorologist steve. let's take a look. where is irma right now? again, it did just officially move from a cat three to a cat four. >> i was talking about this last hour, we were seeing a reorganization of the eye. in the last hour the hurricane hunter aircraft out there and the aircraft was measuring wind speeds of 130, so the latest advise he they've bumped the winds up to 130 and makes it a category four storm. it looked like the eye was
starting to get back together. it had weak owned over northern cuba. that land interaction temporarily setback the hurricane. now that it's over the florida straits, this water is bath water felt even hotter than that. 90 degree water temperatures here. unfortunately our worst fears are starting to come through with this storm system regenerating itself. it's not even to the keys yet. so this outer eyewall still has to come a shore before things get better there. that's going to be a couple more hours yet. conditions there in the keys really about to go downhill and very quickly. in fact, an 88 mile per hour wind gust here in the last hour at marathon key. if you're familiar with keys, marathon is about halfway through that long trip from key west to miami. very healthy eyewall now. as we were talking earlier this morning, bill was showing you a double eyewall, but now we have one single eyewall and that allow this is storm to
intensify. it may not be done strengthening just yet. what that means is we still have a full night ahead of us and a full day tomorrow. storm surge, the threat for tornadoes, and devastating waves here along the florida coastline. this is just ramping up. >> i have a question. i just want to confirm. what i'm seeing here in these graphics would prove that the stronger winds, at least the more volume of wind will be to the right of the hurricane. is that true? does that mean greater storm surge heading that way into the keys, into the mainland of florida and away from the gulf? >> fantastic question. for most hurricanes, on the east coast, it's that right front quadrant. that indeed will be the case here. that's the strongest wins. you have to remember this is moving up into the gulf. as the hurricane passes to the north, the winds will wraparound and then back around out of the south and west. so it's kind of a dual threat here. not even just ahead of the hurricane.
it's behind the hurricane as well. that wind comes in off the gulf from the south and west. this is a long duration event. that's why we want the to get all those people out of here. all this is very low country here. a lot of canals. a lot of rivers that go up here from the gulf. once that water gets bumped up, it has nowhere to go. it stays that there with wind coming in here. >> talk about a recipe for disaster. thank you so much for that. well, the words neighbors helping neighbors will become critical once this storm passes. next you'll hear about one organization that is putting those words right into action.
hurricane irma minutes ago s with hurricane force winds. lars anderson is joining me now. i know you were with the obama administration. worked during the sandy super storm. talk about what's going on in the organization to get help as soon as possible. >> fema has been working with this for days. as soon as the hurricanes are forecast, fema immediately starts working with the state officials to preposition materials, preposition search and rescue teams. so that's what's going on at fema at this very moment. we have over 11,000 folks dedicated to working on this and more being deployed to florida to the affected regions all the time. so right now on the ground we have teams -- we have incident
management teams which have energy specialists, health specialists, infrastructure specialist, transportation specialists that are ready to go once this hurricane passes. >> you know, look, i'm looking at an op-ed that you wrote. there are a lot of points to go through here. the most important being that you have written this is a historic shift. we are living through more natural disasters. they are coming for frequently, altering our economy and the way we live and that frankly the trump administration and all future administrations need to understand it's more than the work of one particular organization like fema to try to handle this. >> that's right. it's going to take -- it's a whole government effort. what i wrote is if you look at the amount of amount that was spent to recover hurricane sandy, most of the money actually went to the department of housing and urban development and the department of transportation. because they're the ones that are responsible for rebuilding and helping people get back on their feet after a disaster like
this. so it takes the whole government. these disasters, we're funding them kind of a an off thing. congress needs to figure out how we're going to, you know, invest our federal taxpayer dollars so that we're billing stronger communities. we are strengthening our communities through rebuilding. it's not just we'll throw some money at it when it happens. we need to start stlenrengtheni our communities now. >> billing codes. you must have at least a 2 foot elevation above the base elevation for anything federally funded. >> that's right. that was something repealed a few weeks ago by the trump administration prior to hurricane harvey hitting. they're now relooking at that thankfully and they're working with folks and fema to try and figure out, you know, what executive orders, what codes can we put in place to make our community stronger. >> look, everything that fema does is valuable. every pennie helps.
but you also write and it has been echoed by former colleagues of yours that fema is not designed to make people whole. it helps. craig put out a number that was surprising for me that the maximum fema can allot to one particular family, the maximum, is $34,000. and on average, families will qualify for up to $7,000 of assistance from fema. that is a drop in the bucket. >> it takes a whole community approach. fe fema was not designed to make people whole. it's going to take the red cross, all these volunteer organizations, people on the ground. there are a number of organizations out there that people are going to have to depend on because fema is not the whole answer. fema is there to help in the immediate aftermath. get people to safe locations. but really it's going to take the whole of government and the whole of community to really recover from these disasters.
>> former fema official lars anderson. to your point i'm joined by some of those that are hardest hit by irma, the low income folks in south florida. we've got albert garcia on the phone. he is the communications director with the new florida majority. what are they dog to make sure people are safe? >> we've been not just preparing our homes, but we've been helping our neighbors. we did it before. we were doing hurricane preparedness workshops. volunteers having organizing community operations centers. they've been going door-to-door helping folks to evacuate, to provide some type of transportation. to shelters. also just trying to convince people that they should leave their homes. there's a lot of fear out there. especially in the undocumented families. so we really just are out there
kind of going neighbor to neighbor making sure that folks knew that we would be there to prepare. >> albert, where are you doing this and where do these people go when you alert them and say whatever your circumstances for wanting to stay, you must leave? >> well, i mean, we've been working in places like in miami, like little haiti, little havana. like i said, we've talked with a lot of folks. they don't know -- this is all they have and they don't know where their home will be when they come back. part of it is doing that. even basic things. there are families who live paycheck to paycheck who can't board to buy plywood and board their homes and do those things. those are situations that are real serious. in some cases we've helped crowd source and we've been using apps and talking to each other.
people say hey, do you have wood there, people have been doing those things. also just been helping, like, working with other organizations, working with uber and lift, even just paying people to help in because people might not have gas money to even go to a shelter. that's some of the things we've been doing. >> it's extraordinary. it sounds very, very groass roots. you literally are breaking down to a practical level, doing everything you can to help these folks. once this storm clears, what kind of assistance are you going to be able to offer? >> well, we've been working with a number of different other relief organizations. on monday in various places in miami-dade and in broward we're setting up community operations centers. i've been talking to folks, other organizations that worked in houston and texas. they are helping to send folks
there. obviously in the local emergency management folks, rebuilding communities. also filling in the gaps. going back to our neighbors door-to-door. there were some folks who were prepared to ride this out. going back to those folks, seeing what they need. we've established a number of organizations to help a community recovery fund. you can find information about that at communityrecovery.fund. pulling in money and get people to not just re-cover but to also rebuild. >> last question to you. how many people do you think you are helping right now? can you give us an estimate? in the hundreds or thousands? >> defbtinitely in the thousand. we work in these industries. a lot of our folks are people who have lived there, are community activists. it's a different thing when those activists reach out when you've seen them at meetings at your local ptas and they're the
ones that are helping you. we hope to help as many as we can. hopefully after this storm hits we'll be there to, you know, to help people in terms of what they need and to provide those practical basic necessities that they need and make sure the folks who are usually overlooked are not overlooked this time. >> certainly neighbors helping neighbors, but you're with the new florida majority. albert, thank you so much. best of luck getting your job done. >> thanks a lot. >> what lies ahead for florida now that irma keeps shifting and getting stronger? we've got another up date from our meteorologist coming your way next.
you're watching special coverage of hurricane irma. this storm is charting a path directly towards the florida keys and is expected to make landfall during the next few hours. the storm has again made a slight shift in course westward with the eye expected to go right through st. petersburg. hurricane force winds are already reaching the keys. it's only going to get worse from here on out. the storm maximum wind speed currently clocking at 130 miles an hour. it could pick up more speed before reaching the pan handle. reports of the power outages are climbing. more than 253,000 across the state. it could reach into the millions once irma has hit. steve, so this thing has gone from a category three to a category four officially in the last 30 minutes or so. what all does that mean? we've had some people say hey, it's only five mile an hour difference, but there is a
different component when you look at cat three to cat four. >> right. the winds are up 10 miles per hour from where they were earlier this evening. we kind of have a lot of tools that we look at the storm with. one of them is our satellite. this is the new one we launched into space in november. it's called go 16. i have it set so that it's scanning this every minute. i've watched over the last six hours. this system just reorganized itself. it was really having a tough time off the north coast of cuba and now this system looks healthier than it has in probably about a day and a half. it's intensifying unfortunately over very warm water. so the florida keys from marathon south is about to be battered with this northern eyewall. let's get over to the radar and i'll show that to you here in just a second. cat four hurricane. winds of 130. i don't think we're done strengthening just yet. this storm system still can rev itself up a little bit more.
unfortunately this was kind of our worst fear that this storm system after it interacted with cuba would start to strengthen again and that's happening right now. you see this northern eyewall. this is really impressive. this is where the winds are gusting 130, 140, 150. that's not too far from key west. let's draw on the distance cool how far away that eyewall is. it looks like it's about 40 miles or so offshore there. that's very concerning. conditions about to go downhill very quickly. gusting to 63 at key west. marathon had a gust last your at 88 miles per hour. you get some of these gusts even in the outer rain bands, 30, 40, near 60 miles per hour. the power going out in some parts of florida in those thunderstorms. let's track this. 2:00 in the morning. strong wind core. this is the north ernorthern ey.
this is what we're concerned about. it's this pushback behind that funnels the water in to places like marco island, ft. myers, up through tampa/st. pete area. if we keep this eyewall offshore, it this can maintain its strengths. we want to get it inland to weaken it. the situation has only gotten worse in the last couple hours with the storm system going back to a four and still intensifying. >> yikes. but as expected we're sorry to see. thank you so much. we'll see you again shortly. let's go to julia. she's live in florida city. i understand there's a lot of rain where you are. talk about what it's like. you guys at least have power. i understand to your south, the keys, it's all dark. >> that's right, alex. in fact, more places going dark just in the last few minutes. the winds really picking up and that rain coming in sideways
just kind of making it even hard to stand sometimes. now i'm able to, though, but i just want to give you a look around. we're on u.s. 1 which is the main highway from florida city which is kind of at the southern tip of the mainland, last stop before you hit the florida keys. we've been seeing all kinds of green flashes, which is power lines shorting out. yes, there is still power here behind me. we've seen a lot of places go dark in the last few minutes. right over here you see with the trees here and then this boat. that's going to be a prime target for these winds that are getting so strong even though we are not expecting a direct strike from hurricane irma. it's so powerful. if you see in the light over there, you see what i'm talking about. that sideways wind. you can just see it being blown across. every couple minutes we get these intense blasts. in the darkness, that makes this particularly dangerous. we've got to look out for any debris that could be headed our
way. look at that stop sign. i'm not sure if you can see that. it kind of shows you with those palm trees. that may go flying soon. it's picking up now, too, so what i can tell you the good news is we don't see many people on the road at all. i think we've seen one pair of headlights since we've been out. we are being very careful to be very safe here. most people we've talked to maybe have a little cabin fever as they were taking shelter. so they were peeking out, stepping outside to see what things looked like. they've gone inside now. we have not seen anyone outside who isn't a news crew or a police officer. for example just in the last hour. and the people who live in florida city, they were absolutely smacked, battered, devastated by hurricane andrew 25 years ago last month. so they know the threat of hurricanes. they know to take shelter. they know to make those preparations which is what they've done. in fact, i want to show you
something else. just to give you an idea of what was going on here maybe just more than 24 hours ago. this is where people were clekicle collecting sand to fill sandbags because we are in a low lying area and storm surge can be an issue. so far we've seen some areas of standing water but it has been more a story of the wind at this point in florida city. i think we're getting to the point where we need to go take some shelter. i'm going to send it back to you and we'll talk a little bit later. >> before i let you go and job well done to both you and your camera man, i did notice your camera man during your report, he focussed on a trash can that does not appear to be locked down in any way. that could be a projectile, right, if the wins pick up much more? >> alex, absolutely. anything that's not secured, whether it's a plant, that garbage can that you were talking about, that could go flying. that's what makes things so dangerous even -- that's right.
so that trash can, there are plants that have already been knocked over. anytime you have any kind of debris, just regular things outside of people's houses, trash even that hasn't been picked up, there was a big push to get that taken care of, but in going around town just in the last few days, we know that the county was not able to pick up everything. that is certainly a concern. because if you have things that aren't secured, those are the first things that are going to go flying. >> absolutely. okay, julia, you go get some safety right there. i know we'll speak with you again. thank you so much and your camera crew as well for a job well done. let's go from there to miami. phillip is talking with us right now. how about the storm there. raining pretty hard and windy too. >> yeah, alex, it's coming and going. we're getting gusts that are pretty strong at times and then it will die down for a few minutes, then pick back up again. right now the main concern is power outages, especially here in broward county. they're reporting as we speak
74,000 thousand outages in this county alone. that is causing some problems, particularly in the town of davies nearby. a water hupump station has lost power and they are anticipating an overflow in the morning that could affect in surrounding areas and that means that there will be -- they fear those areas could be impacted and there could be the free standing water that is contaminated because of that. they're going to have crews working on it as soon as they feel it is safe to do so. we're still waiting to hear back from them about when exactly they might be able to do that. those communityiies will be impacted or they anticipate that to happen come day break. >> in terms of safety, i had heard broward couy was issuing a 4:00 p.m. curfew yesterday afternoon. did that happen? did people comply with that? >> by all accounts, they did.
that was issued. that was the earliest in this area. as we speak right now, pretty much everywhere in the miami area, metro area is under curfew. there should be nobody out in the streets as we speak with the exception of some law enforcement. even broward county has said in the last couple hours they're starting to pull some of their deputies off the roads as it gets worse here in terms of the rain and the win. >> you touch on exactly what i was going to ask you. we've got it it about 45 miles per hour. thank you for that confirmation, phillip. we'll talk about you again. you stay safe there in miami. let's check on the conditions a bit north of where phillip is. joining me now, the mayor of boynton beach, that is south of west palm beach. mayor steven grant on the phone with me. how are things looking outside your window? what are you able to see? >> right now it's very dark, so i can't see much. but we do see some of the wins blowing the trees. it's nothing major yet, but we know that the storm is coming
our way. >> for sure. it's a little fright thing to look out over dark waters and hear that howling. have you had any report of damage thus far? >> not that i'm aware of. our area was hardened. we have the cement utility polls now because wilma knocked them all out. so this is an opportunity to see what fdl has been doing for the past 12 years making sure that when a hurricane does hit we are prepared. >> so do you have power? >> yes. >> is that consistent throughout the boynton beach area? >> i would say if i have power most likely all of the eastern half of boynton beach has power. >> how about evacuation orders? what were the orders in your community and did people heed them? >> i believe everyone did. there's always going to be that one person that's going to go
against what you tell them to do. they are aware that if we can't get to you until the winds die down below 40 miles per hour. so because the curfew is in effect now, there's not going to be really anyone coming by for the next 24 to 48 hours. >> given boynton beach and where it's placed, are you more concerned about storm surge and wind or really a combination of both? >> it is a bit of a combination of both. we don't have much east of the inter coastal. those barrier islands are going to get hit very hard. but it's mostly i believe the winds that we're worried about. >> okay. well, mayor there of boynton beach, steven grant, best of luck as you ride this out. we'll be watching very closely what happens in your community. thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> when hurricane camille hit the u.s., it was a category five storm with 190 mile an hour wind. but it was hurricane katrina,
category three that had more depth and damage. a major reason was the storm surge. it's something we keep talking about here. katrina's 28 feet versus camille's 22 feet. my colleague richard is joining us to talk about this. we've got noaa. they say it's storm surge. that could be the biggest worry. talk about the reasoning for that. >> that is what they're saying. they're saying this because wind is not the killer. they're saying storm surge, that's the tropical storm killer. let me show you some of the numbers behind all of that. if you look at this, over 50% or almost 50% is caused by the surge. that is what they're looking at. when you look at just wind, that wind is at 8% in terms of surge. now, that's just in the last half century when we look at numbers. in addition to that, i'll show you this map here of irma as it moved directions in the last 24 hours.
the issue is that it's tacked this way farther west as steve has been telling us. this is the inherent weakness of the coastline all across florida. you can see where it's most week when it comes to storm surge, it's mostly on this side of the state. tha that's why this is so concerning when you're looking at how it is now tracking this way. now, when we look at how a storm surge actually does look, this is an animation from the national hurricane center. they laid it out. you can see this might be a levy or storm surge barrier. then as the surge starts to come in, the bulges of water is what they're measures. it destroys the levy, then it takes away the vegetation. this house will be gone over a certain amount of time. then this gets dug a little bit deeper. vegetation gone. 2 feet of surge can sweep away suvs and pick ups.
6 inches can knock a person over. >> 6 inches. >> that's all it takes. this is why, alex, surge does not need to move quickly. at just four miles an hour, storm surge can be as destructive as 110 mile an hour winds. here the storm surge latest numbers from noaa's latest advisory, we're seeing storm surge estimations of up to 15 feet in some areas. the height of a home. a situation where home is not a shelter. they say get out, you get out. this is what noaa suggest people do. know your zone. contact local emergency manageme management ancies. follow evaation orders. and then monitor tho local storm surge photographs. noaa's maps have been quite accurate when we look at it. here's part of the storm technology that is helping to
save lives. the sensors that they're mounting in various locations up and down the coast that are about an 1 1/2 in diameter, about a foot and a half tall. they measure not only the storm surge but also the pressure readings at crucial locations that need the pinpoint data that saves lives over time. storm surge is a killer not limited to coast. tropical storms are low level hurricanes can do this. inland areas can see storm surge. they happen before, during, and after landfall here. as an example of that, l louisiana, they had surge going as much as 25 miles inland. >> i want to conceptualize surge. when you say 15 foot surge, is that 15 foot wall of water? or that it just builds up to 15 feet. >> they measure the height between what normal tied height is versus what it will be during a hurricane. so those surges are 15 feet above normal.
steve is an expert on that, but that is the way they explain it. therefore, as it gross, that is, again, what can affect the house. the issue, again, 6 inches is enough to cause damage. >> thank you very much. we appreciate that. well, the florida governor calling irma clearly a life threatening situation. report on how seriously people have taken the evacuations warning coming your way.
we are back and of course tracking hurricane irma for you. the cuban government has lifted its warnings for one province on the northern coast as that storm moves northwest towards florida. a storm surge warning in effect from south carolina down the east coast to florida's jupiter inlet. then in florida from north miami beach southward and westward all the way across to tampa bay. hurricane force winds expected to hit the keys in one to two
hours. irma certainly still a big concern along florida's atlantic coast. nbc tim furlong explains, he followed this report from deerfield beach just a short time ago. >> we've had it all here in south florida. the wind, you see the palm trees blowing. it is an absolute nightmare. there is an evacuation order under effect for all the florida beach towns. anybody that's out, police are coming up and telling you to get out of the way. the wind and rain is coming horizontal. most of the areas east of the a 1 a are now closed off. they don't want you coming over. they've blocked most access roads. they are arresting homeless people just to get them off the street in some cases. and of course there are the tornado warnings. our phones went crazy the warnings came across our phone.
there was an actual tornado warning in coral springs and it worked its way up to the north west part of broward county. we're all kind of hanging in there that as it gets worse t doesn't get too much worse. >> all right, tim. thank you for that. with more on the power of irma, i'm joined by phil, a meteorologist with colorado state university. he joins me on the phone. phil, good morning to you. i know you specialize in the atlantic basin hurricanes. what, if any, are you seeing different about this year's storms over the past year's recently? >> for the last few years they've actually been pretty quiet. we had active seasons back in 2004, two thn fi2005. the past years have been fairly quiet. this year has been very active. we had three hurricanes in the@lan tthe atlantic at the same time. we had harvey.
it looks like we may have the same with irma. bearing down on key west. very, very serious situation unfolding in florida over the next day or so. >> whenny talk about this sort of lull in the storms, if you will, you go back a decade. we're looking at the severity of those. then you have a lull. then you have an active season. is that the norm? is that typical to have that much space between terrible seasons? or is that space shortening? you have to look at things. we talk about climate change and the issues with that. is that at play here. >> actually it's been quiet the last few days, so mostly for the united states, we've actually had average hurricane activity in the atlantic. we've had basically flow along the u.s. coast that tend to keep the storms away from hitting us. unfortunately this year the steering patterns are somewhat different. the sub tropical high pressure area is a bit further to the west. so with a storm like irma, it's now reaching the edge of that
sub tropical high and instead of going nicely out to sea it's way too close to florida. now that it's being pulled north it's going to hit the states. this is a very active season, but also the steering pattern is such that the staorms that are out there or coming way too close to the coast. >> when we talk about irma, we are talking about it in superlatives. we've said the greatest, the largest, the strongest, the biggest. what have you noticed about this storm that you haven't seen with other ones? >> this storm is certainly near the top in a lot of different kinds of categories. irma got very intense. one of the strongest storms we've ever observed. had maximum winds of 185 miles an hour. typically the storms that get that strong do so in the western caribbean and gulf of mexico. this storm got really intense but closer to the leeward islands. we haven't seen any of those in
the reasonable historical record which goes back about 50 years. certainly i think that's kind of what sets it apart. when wepeople in the leeward island, you know, this is the strongest storm we've ever seen, i think in the last 50 years or so it bears itself out. >> phil, thank you so much for weighing in on all of it. i appreciate that. hurricane irma's threat extending inland now to georgia and beyond. that is where mandatory evacuations are under way. jacob rascon has the latest from savannah. jacob. >> thousands pack into buses headed inland. more than half million people under the georgia coast under evacuation orders. >> so you're out of here? >> i'm out of here. >> in cities like tybee island, many understand the threat from
hurricane matthew. >> it just zrodestroyed the hardwood florida. >> these two moved into their beach home last week. tonight they're moving out. >> where are you going? >> right now we really don't know. we're got to leave. >> mandatory e vvacuations as f north as the north carolina coast. bracing for an unpredictable irma. >> i hope when i come back from vacation i've still got a house. >> we are about to get some new information on the path of hurricane irma. the very latest in just a few minutes. coming your way at the top of the hour. stay with us.
hello, everyone. i'm alex witt here in new york at msnbc world headquarters, where it is 3:00 a.m. in the east. it is midnight out west. you're watching our special coverage of hurricane irma. at this hour, the hurricane is building strength as it takes aim at the florida keys. it is now back at a category 4 storm with 130-mile-an-hour winds. it could be even stronger bit time it reaches the panhandle. but, first, just hours away from pummeling the lower keys, has a storm surge warning in effect there, also for other parts of