I fired off this tweet storm yesterday evening after going through my own notes on Hurricane Irma taken in September 2017. It’s pretty clear despite my personal distaste for Governor Scott’s approach, it was more effective in coordination with local governments as well as proactive about evacuations than the DeSantis approach in Ian. For those who don’t remember, Irma’s projected landfall point changed as radically as Ian’s even shifting coasts, but the state was more prepared outside of, unfortunately nursing homes.
I refreshed my memory on Irma. Evacuations prep began on Sep 5, and Governor Scott was really aggressive about it on Sep 6-7. Hurricane Warnings were posted at 11 pm ET Sep 7 for Collier, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach (inc Lake Okeechobee) counties. 1/
All state offices were closed Sep 8, not just those in the Hurricane Warning area. All tolls STATEWIDE were waived Sept 8. Unlike in Ian when folks had to pay toll while dodging tornado cells in SE Florida on Tuesday evening. 2/
At 5pm Sep 8, Indian River, Martin, St Lucie, Lee, Sarasota & Charlotte were added to the warning area. The Governor had already coordinated with/ local officials to evacuate these areas BEFORE their was a warning there. A Storm Surge Warning was posted for Broward & Palm Bch 3/
In total 6.5 mil Floridians were evacuated. Irma made landfall in Florida at 8am ET on Sep 10 at Cudjoe Key as a Cat 4. Their were tragedies in the storm, but the state was VERY well prepared compared to Ian. No two storms are the same, but these two were fairly similar. 4/END
PS- totally forgot an important point – PTC 10 had just dumped tons of rain on SW & SE Florida 2 weeks before Irma. The ground was already saturated, the potential of total disaster was there. We averted it. Unlike in Ian.
DeSantis instead of realizing the storm could hit anywhere on the west coast and taking appropriate steps (or urging local governments to do so) dithered, because of uncertain path. I have some sympathy for this as an academic exercise as I geek out on Hurricane tracking and am NEVER certain of a landfall position prior to actual landfall – HOWEVER, despite being an anti-spending zealot, Rick Scott realized one place you splurge and activate the full force of government is preventive measures before a major hurricane makes landfall.
DeSantis, Ian prep seemed to be more of a knock-on of his own COVID policies, which discourage local governments from acting proactively and following certain sets of data and not others (the highly reliable European weather model which I repeatedly tweeted about PRIOR to landfall never had Ian’s center hitting a point north or west of St Petersburg and generally had multiple model runs in its ensemble set taking the storm’s eye right through southwest Florida from Friday September 23 onward). The disastrous consequences of this attitude have led to excess death and destruction.