Images of what highway in Florida looks like as 500,000 people told to get out

What does it look like when over 500,000 people are ordered to evacuate South Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Irma? Not good. Even those trying to beat traffic by leaving at 1:30 AM this morning were stuck in standstill gridlock, such as Larry Aydlette of the Palm Beach Post. He says what would normally be a 2-hour drive took 8 hours, and this was driving in the dark hours of the morning.

A perhaps unprecedented flow of cars, trucks and humanity was streaming north on Florida’s Turnpike early Friday morning, fleeing Hurricane Irma and creating massive traffic slowdowns.

I was trapped in it. I left Jupiter at 1:30 a.m. Friday, taking what is usually a two-hour drive to my family’s home in Kissimmee, south of Orlando. I thought I was being cagey. If I left in the early morning hours, I might beat some of the punishing daytime traffic. I thought wrong.

Friday’s drive time: Eight hours.

If you can call it driving. Often, the top speed on the 70 mph freeway was a stop-and-start 5 mph. You kept wondering if there was an accident that drivers were rubbernecking, eventually realizing that it was just the narrow two-lane roadway was severely overloaded.

The Category 5 hurricane has been downgraded to Category 4, but that's still good reason to flee as soon as possible, even if it takes all day.

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