GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - The question now is not if Florida will be impacted, but how badly it will be impacted.
Today, the National Hurricane Center has downgraded Hurricane Irma to a Category 4 storm – but that shouldn’t cause any sighs of relief. It still remains extremely powerful and incredibly dangerous. It’s already taken at least 20 lives, after tearing through the Caribbean.
For a number of Floridians, hurricanes aren’t anything new. But the sheer strength of Irma, now has even the most stubborn residents heeding the calls to evacuate.
David Wells is one of those people.
“We all know it's coming. It's going to big. It's going to be really bad."
Wells was born and raised in Minnesota – before moving to Naples, Fla.
So what made him change his mind to leave? Ironically, Mother Nature herself.
"I went for a run on the beach this morning and I saw schools of fish all heading north there were some dolphins out in the Gulf, kind of jumping all crazily. All these fish and things were swimming north, so you kind of get the sense it's time to get out of here."
While on the road to refuge – three hours and nearly 200 miles north, to Tampa – he pulled over to talk with KARE 11's Rena Sarigianopoulos about joining others in the mass exodus.
“The traffic is okay now, but we get to spots by big exits and it's bumper to bumper. Then it will start to pick up again, so you can definitely still get out. I saw the National Guard on the other side of the highway, military vehicles towing big generators, other equipment – I saw convoys of ambulances and things heading down in the other direction."
As far as the reports of gas shortages, Wells says he had to try three different stations, before finding one where he could fill up. While you can still get gas, it’s not easy, Wells says.
Wells understands why some people would choose to stay – leaving behind a home, your belongings, your life – isn’t a simple request. But for him, he says it's not the storm itself he fears, it's what happens after.
"Really worried about not having any food on the shelf, people running out of water, running out of gas, the roads are going to be down, power is going to be down – bad, bad flooding."
Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall late Saturday night.