Hurricane Irma made landfall today in the Caribbean as the Category 5 storm being billed as the biggest ever to form in the Atlantic continues its track toward southern Florida. The NFL wasted little time in acting, officially moving Sunday’s Week 1 game, Tampa Bay at Miami, to Week 11.
Both teams had a bye that weekend, November 19. It means the Bucs and the Dolphins will play 16 games in a row this season.
Irma, which has sustained winds at 185 mph, is “bigger, faster and stronger” than Hurricane Andrew, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said this morning. That 1992 storm was the biggest ever to hit Florida and second only to Katrina as the most costly storm to hit the U.S. There already are mandatory evacuations set for the Florida Keys beginning at 7 PM ET tonight, and Scott has declared a state of emergency. The most recent projections have the storm potentially hitting the state Sunday morning, with storm surge among the biggest concerns.
Miami’s baseball team, the Marlins, wrap up a homestand against the Washington Nationals today then head out on the road for a week. The team said yesterday it would allow families to travel with them because of the storm threat.
Elsewhere, a number of events in South Florida have been canceled or postponed as Irma looms. Singer Bryan Adams has rescheduled concerts set for Friday in Miami, Saturday in Jacksonville and Sunday in Orlando. The Ruff Ryders 20th anniversary tour stop in Miami also has been canceled as has Paramore’s show Saturday in Miami, though its Friday concert at the Fillmore remains a go.Other big-name acts with shows scheduled for the area this weekend include Depeche Mode, Clint Black, Adam Ant, Steve Earle and the Blackberry Smoke/Chris Robinson Band double bill. No word yet on whether those shows will go on.
The Miami Auto Show that was set to rev up Saturday has been postponed indefinitely, and the Tampa Boat Show has been moved to mid-October.
The storm now is nearing the British Virgin Islands, possibly clipping northern Puerto Rico later today; Weather Channel footage of the storm hitting St. Maarten this morning shows extreme wind, rains and damage. The National Hurricane Center in its latest update said the storm is expected to pass near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday, and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas late on Thursday.
As Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast last week, the NFL had to cancel a Cowboys-Texans preseason game in Houston.
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.