Florida Keys emergency management officials have called for a mandatory visitor evacuation to begin at sunrise Wednesday.
The evacuation is required due to potential impacts from Hurricane Irma.
Irma is a dangerous category 5 hurricane currently positioned approximately 1,600 miles to the east, southeast of Key West.
Visitors with near-term plans to travel to the Keys must postpone them until the storm passes and an infrastructure assessment can be completed. Details will be available on this website.
“We value our visitors and want them to be safe,” said Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi. “This is the reason why we need them to calmly leave the Keys with plenty of advance notice before the storm may reach our shores.
“We do hope they will return after the storm passes and we can reopen,” he added.
Gastesi said that visitors could begin leaving prior to Wednesday morning if they wished.
He added officials would also likely issue mandatory evacuation orders for residents.
A state of local emergency for the Keys is likely to go into effect Tuesday afternoon.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency for all of Florida’s 67 counties.
The Keys and nearly half of the Florida peninsula are now in the five-day forecast track error cone.
It is too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the Keys or other parts of Florida, but preparation is key, emergency management officials said.
Key West’s Womenfest, originally scheduled for Sept. 6-10, has been canceled based on the evacuation order. The Robert James Sales SLAM fishing tournament, which was scheduled to begin Friday, has been canceled as well.