LIve Feed and updates courtesy of AP:
Update 31 (10:10pm): A third construction crane has toppled in Florida in the powerful winds of Hurricane Irma. Officials say it happened at a project on Fort Lauderdale beach during the storm Sunday.
Officials with developer The Related Group told the Sun-Sentinel the crane collapse caused no injuries and did not appear to damage anything else. Two other cranes toppled earlier in Miami as Irma swirled up the state.
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Update 30 (9:33pm): Airline update: Miami International Airport has announced it will be closed Monday and begin only limited flights on Tuesday. Orlando International Airport closed Saturday and won't reopen to passenger traffic until after Hurricane Irma has passed, a damage assessment has been completed, necessary recovery efforts made and the airlines are consulted to determine when best to resume operations. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport says on its website it has no timetable yet to reopen. Its last flights were Friday. Tampa International Airport also is closed as Hurricane Irma moves up the Florida peninsula. Airlines are preparing their recovery schedules, which may take several days to execute.
Meanwhile, late on Sunday, the following image from FlightRadar, showing the near total lack of airplanes over Florida, was making the twitter rounds, called by some "one of the most incredible images from Irma."
0 aircraft over Florida at 6:30 pm EDT (22:30 UTC). pic.twitter.com/hkvPkcb3HZ— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) September 10, 2017
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Update 29 (9:10pm): The county administrator in the Florida Keys says crews will begin house to house searches Monday morning, looking for people who need help and assessing damage from Hurricane Irma. Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says relief will arrive on a C-130 military plane Monday morning at the Key West International Airport. Once it's light out, they'll check on survivors. They suspect they may find fatalities. Gastesi says they are "prepared for the worst."
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Update 28 (8:50pm): More than 3.3 million homes and businesses and counting have lost power in Florida as Hurricane Irma moves up the peninsula. The widespread outages stretch from the Florida Keys all the way into central Florida. Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said there were nearly 1 million customers without power in Miami-Dade County alone. The power outages are expected to increase as the storm edges further north. There are roughly 7 million residential customers in the state.
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Update 27 (8:33m): Hurricane Irma's top sustained winds have dropped to 105 mph. That's still a Category 2 storm, meaning extensive damage will occur. Masters says that if Irma's center had shifted just 20 miles to the north as it moved past Cuba, it could have hit the mainland United States as a Category 5.
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Update 26 (8:00pm): Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys. It finally hit the mainland as a big wide beast, but not quite as monstrous as once feared. The once-Category 5 storm lost some of its power on the northern Cuba coast. It's still raking Florida with devastating storm surges, winds and rain. Its top sustained winds are now 110 mph (177 kph) and the center of the storm is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) inland from Fort Myers.
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Update 25 (7:50pm): It's been difficult to determine the extent of damage Hurricane Irma caused in the Florida Keys, where communication has been difficult and authorities are warning boaters and drivers to stay away. But The Associated Press has been texting with John Huston, who has been riding out the storm in his house on Key Largo, on the Atlantic side of the island, just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Every few minutes during the height of the storm, he sent another dispatch. He described whiteout conditions, with howling winds that sucked dry the gulf side of the narrow island, where the tide is usually 8 feet deep. He kept his humor though, texting to "send cold beer" at one point.
Now he sees furniture floating down the street with small boats. He says the storm surge was at least 6 feet deep on his island, 76 miles from Irma's eye. He can see now that structures survived, but the storm left a big mess at ground level.
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Update 24 (7:05pm): The Lee County Sheriff's Office says water began leaking through the roof at the Germain Arena shelter in Estero just as the eye of Hurricane Irma drew near. Thousands of evacuees have crowded into the minor-league hockey stadium, which seats about 8,400 people and is being used as a shelter. The sheriff's office posted on Facebook that authorities are monitoring the problem.
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Update 23 (6:58pm): Florida officials are urging people to stay in their homes and shelters, even if it looks like Hurricane Irma has passed. Miami-Dade County spokesman Mike Hernandez said he's seen reports of people leaving the county's hurricane shelters. It's too early for that, he says: "Just because it seems like the weather is clearing up, that doesn't mean it's safe to get out on the roads. Miami Dade remains under curfew, much of it without electricity, and with downed power lines, flooding and poor visibility, moving around could be deadly.
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Update 22 (6:35pm): As Hurricane Irma continues along its path north, it should move directly over the Tampa Bay area around midnight. Residents of the highly populated area are fearing the worst. A report by CoreLogic, the global property data firm, found nearly 455,000 Tampa Bay homes could be damaged by storm surges, the most of any major US metro area other than Miami and New York. Rebuilding those homes could cost $81 billion. The reason Tampa Bay is so vulnerable is that the bay acts as a funnel for storm surges, forcing water into narrow channels with nowhere else to go.
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Update 21 (5:50pm): President Donald Trump says the U.S. may have gotten a "little bit lucky" after Hurricane Irma veered from its original course and headed west along Florida's coast. He says Irma may not have been quite as destructive as a result, but that things will play out over the next several hours.
Trump addressed reporters Sunday after returning to the White House from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where he spent the weekend monitoring the storm. Trump says Irma will cost "a lot of money" but he isn't thinking about that right now. He says "right now, we're worried about lives, not cost."
Trump says he'll be having additional meetings about coordination for the storm response.
Separately, Trump also declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm. The federal help includes temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota.
Federal funding also is available to governments and non-profit organizations for emergencies in all 67 Florida counties. For the first 30 days, that money will cover 100 percent of the costs of some emergency responses.
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Update 20 (5:10 pm): As the eye of Hurricane Irma rapidly approaches Naples, Fla., the storm has been downgraded to a category two hurricane. However, meteorologists warn that the distinction is effectively meaningless in practice, as Irma's 110 mph winds and massive, 15-foot storm surge are still expected to lay waste to Naples after the eye passes, before the storm moves further north.
To recap, at 5 pm, the storm was 5 miles north of Naples, which reported a wind gust of 142 mph just after 4:30 pm. The storm was headed north at 14 mph toward Cape Coral and Fort Myers. At 3:35 p.m. Sunday, it had made its second landfall of the day over Marco Island, where a wind gust of 130 mph was reported, according to the Washington Post.
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Update 19 (4:00pm): Now a category three storm, the NWS is reporting that Irma has made its second Florida landfall on Marco Island, a barrier island about 20 miles southeast of Naples, to which it is connected by a network of bridges. The NWS has warned that the storm will soon hit Naples with its 115 mph winds, adding that a massive storm surge is imminent. It's advising any residents who've not already fled to shelter in place, according to the Washington Post.
The second landfall occurred at 3:35 pm.
In a situation that has all the makings of a "Katrina moment," the NWS says the storm is forecast to remain a major hurricane as it approaches the densely populated Tampa Bay area, which experts say is woefully ill-equipped to handle a storm of this size. These problems have been compounded by the fact that many people from Florida’s eastern coast had sought refuge around Tampa in recent days before the storm’s path shifted westward.
Meanwhile, here is a snapshot of real estate prices on Marco Island: this should provide a sense of the damages the local economy could be looking at.
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Update 18 (3:10pm): Forecasters are issuing urgent warnings to residents of Marco Island and Naples, Florida, that receding water is going to return with a potentially deadly vengeance. As Hurricane Irma skirts within 8 miles (13 kilometers) of Marco Island, the U.S. Hurricane Center has sent out an urgent alert telling residents to "MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!" The center is warning of a "life-threatening storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) above ground level." According to the latest update from the NHC, the water level in many areas in south Florida is about to surge. From the just issued statement:
URGENT...WATER LEVELS FROM STORM SURGE TO RISE RAPIDLY IN THE NAPLES AND MARCO ISLAND AREA...
With the passage of the eye of Irma during the next couple of hours, the wind direction will shift to onshore, causing water levels along the southwest coast of Florida to rapidly rise in a matter of minutes. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER! Life-threatening storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet above ground level is expected in this area.
And here is is an indication of just how rapid the storm surge could be in the coming hours.
Irma's eye may move over Marco Island or with a wobble just miss, but that's not really the point, said hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen. The eye or track line are distractions with such a powerful and giant storm. The impacts of this huge storm surge are what matter. Because the leading wind bands of Irma whipped the coastal water more out to sea, the waters retracted, but once the eye passes and the wind reverses "the water comes rushing in, kind of like a tsunami," said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for the private service Weather Underground.
Water levels will rise about 8 feet in an hour going from negative to positive, Masters said.
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Update 17 (3:00pm): Irma's winds dropped to 120 mph (195 kilometers per hour), down from 130 mph, and forecasters say it should weaken a bit more before landfall. But it still expected to a strong major hurricane as it rakes Florida from its western edges across to the east. The storm is 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Naples and has picked up speed moving north at 12 mph (19 kilometers per hour).
The now Category 3 hurricane will keep on battering all of South Florida with high wind and surge, forecasters say. The hurricane center in western Miami, across the state from the eye of the mammoth storm, recorded an 81 mph (130 kilometers per hour) wind gust.
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Update 16 (2:45pm): Major General Michael Calhoun, the head of Florida's National Guard, says that more than 10,000 National Guard members from other states are going to be coming into the state. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already called up 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard to help with recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma. Those members have been dispatched to shelters around the state and will be involved in handing out supplies in storm-ravaged areas once Irma has passed through.
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Update 15 (2:35pm): An apparent tornado spun off by Hurricane Irma has destroyed six mobile homes in Florida. Palm Bay Police Department Lt. Mike Bandish said no one was injured in Sunday's tornado, but that a 93-year-old man refused to leave his damaged home. He told Florida Today that officers tried to convince him to leave, but he wouldn't. Palm Bay is on Florida's central Atlantic Coast near the Kennedy Space Center. The eye of Irma was hundreds of miles away when the tornado struck.
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Update 13 (2:15pm): Miami Beach officials say emergency services have been suspended until winds drop below 40 mph (64 kph), and no one will be allowed into the city until roads have been cleared. The city would continue a mandatory 8 p.m. curfew for the next two nights.
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Update 12 (1:48pm): According to Florida Power & Light, it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Hurricane Irma. Spokesman Rob Gould said Sunday that an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland. He expects thousands of miles (kilometers) of poles and lines will need to be replaced, particularly on the Gulf coast. As of Sunday afternoon, about 1.5 million customers were without power.
He said 17,000 restoration workers from as far away as California and Massachusetts are already stationed around the state, but it will take time to rebuild the system. The utility covers much of the state, including most cities on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. It does not cover Tampa and St. Petersburg, two major cities in Irma's forecast path.
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Update 11 (1:43pm): The White House says President Donald Trump has received a "comprehensive update" on Hurricane Irma. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several Cabinet members participated in the briefing from Camp David — the presidential retreat where Trump has spent the weekend monitoring the storm. Other administration officials joined in from the White House or Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
Pence and several Cabinet secretaries are planning to visit FEMA headquarters later Sunday. The White House says Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Irma could affect all four states. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he also spoke with Trump on Sunday.
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Update 10 (1:25pm): The following charts show the stunning blowout-tide, or "anti-surge" the has resulted in Naples as a result of Florida. In the very near future, all this water will flood right back, and then some.
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Update 9 (1:10pm): Deputies shot and wounded a burglar and arrested his accomplice at a Florida home as Hurricane Irma blew in.
The Broward Sheriff's Office said in a news release Sunday that the homeowners in Weston were out of town but saw the burglars remotely inside the house through a home surveillance system. Deputies responded shortly before 3 a.m. and one of the two juvenile males was shot outside the home. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The other person was arrested.
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Update 8 (12:54 pm): Miami’s financial center appears to now be flooding as ocean water enters city streets as part of the storm’s surge.
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Update 7 (12:40 pm): Florida sheriff's deputies rescued a couple who tried to ride out Hurricane Irma on a small sailboat. Christine Weiss of the Martin County Sheriff's Office said a passer-by noticed the couple was in trouble Sunday. It happened just off Jensen Beach, which is on the Atlantic Coast north of Palm Beach. Video shows a Martin County patrol boat manned by deputies John Howell and James Holloran and Detective Mathew Fritchie pulling up next to the sailboat.
WATCH: Martin County Sheriff's Office Marine Units rescue two people aboard a sailboat pic.twitter.com/VJ7V6BuDTu— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 10, 2017
The task of helping the couple onto their boat was precarious as both boats bobbed in choppy water. Deputies then took them to shore. The names of the couple were not released. They were not injured.
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Update 6 (12:25 pm): President Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee as Hurricane Irma moves north. All four states could be affected by the storm, which struck the Florida Keys on Sunday. The White House says Trump spoke with the officials Sunday from the Camp David presidential retreat, where he was spending the weekend. Trump has been in regular contract with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio over the past week. Chief of staff John Kelly spoke Sunday with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to receive an updated Irma briefing on Sunday.
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Update 5 (12:15 pm): Weather Channel Storm Rider and "hurricane hunter", Juston Drake, was eager to record the strength of Irma; he recorded his attempt in the following striking clip:
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Update 4 (11:17am): According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed in all of South Florida. Irma continues to be armed with 130 mph winds as its large eye passes north of the Keys. Storm surge is forecast for 10 to 15 feet in southwestern Florida.
Hurricane-force winds are continuing throughout southern Florida, including the Keys. The hurricane center warns that winds affecting upper floors of high-rise building will be much stronger than at ground level. The hurricane center also emphasizes that Irma will bring life-threatening wind to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of its center.
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Update 3 (11:10am) : According to the National Weather Service, a crane - one of two-dozen in the city - has collapsed in Miami as strong wind from Hurricane Irma blows in. The weather service's Miami office tweeted that one of its employees witnessed the crane boom and counterweight collapse in downtown Miami. The employee captured video of the collapse.
It wasn't immediately clear if the collapse caused damage or injuries. The cranes have been a concern. Construction sites across Irma's potential path in Florida were locked down to remove or secure building materials, tools and debris that could be flung by Irma's winds. But the horizontal arms of the tall tower cranes remained loose despite the potential danger of collapse. According to city officials, it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes and there wasn't enough time.
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Update 2 (10:47am): Hurricane Irma's eye is beginning to move away from the Florida Keys as it continues north with 130 mph (215 kph) winds according to the NHC, which reported that the center of core of Irma is about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Key West.
Irma is so wide that a gust of 93 mph (150 kph) was measured near Key Largo at the other end of the Florida Keys.
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Update 1 (10:15am): For the first time ever, a tropical storm warning has been issued for the city of Atlanta. According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, Sunday was the first time such a warning had been issued for the metro Atlanta area. High wind warnings have been issued in previous storms. According to Bloomberg, the warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours. Peak winds were expected to reach 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) with gusts of up to 55 mph (88 kph). The weather service says storm threats include damage to porches, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes. Roads may become impassable due to debris. Power outages could occur.
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Hurricane Irma, which has strengthened again to Category 4, was delivering destructive winds, torrential rains, and life-threatening storm surge to southern Florida, as the eye of the storm neared the Florida Keys leaving at least one person dead, has just made landfall lower Florida keys.
According to the NHC, the center of Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys at 9:10 am EDT, with maximum sustained winds of 130mph. A gust of 106 mph (171 kph) was reported on Big Pine Key.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts that the core of Hurricane Irma will likely head directly for the highly populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region after it gets through raking the Keys, but the storm is so massive all of Florida will be feeling the Category 4 hurricane's fury.
The center of the storm was just off Key West Sunday morning. The latest forecast of Irma's eye — which still can change — keeps the nearly 400-mile wide (640-kilometer) storm in the water, barely off the coast of southwestern Florida's Fort Myers and Naples. But that also puts that region in the strongest northeast quadrant of the storm, where storm surge, wind, rain and tornado threats are highest according to Bloomberg.
And a few miles wiggle could bring Irma's eye — which has measured 30 miles wide (48 kilometers) — inland. The storm is moving slowly, about 8 mph (13 kilometers per hour) so its eye is likely to hit the Tampa region around 2 a.m. Monday, but damaging winds, storm, surge, rain and tornadoes will reach the area long before then.
On Sunday morning, Florida utility officials say more than 1 million customers have lost power as Hurricane Irma hits the state. Florida Power & Light Company said that nearly 1.1 million customers statewide were without power Sunday morning. About 574,000 of those outages were in Miami-Dade County, while there were 360,000 in Broward and nearly 136,000 in Palm Beach County.
The massive storm made landfall in the Florida Keys, and its center was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast. But the effects are being felt far from the center because of Irma's size.
Irma lashed the area with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it was expected to remain a powerful storm as it moved through the Florida Keys and near the state's west coast. Before dawn, gusts were recorded at 94 miles an hour on Smith Shoal Light with sustained winds of 73 miles an hour, while gusts up to 68 mph were observed in Miami, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Parts of Tennessee were under a tropical storm watch Sunday morning, which could bring be a significant wind event for Alabama, Georgia, southern Tennessee and South Carolina.
The National Weather Service earlier Sunday morning urged everyone in the Florida Keys to "hunker down," warning, "the worst winds are yet to come." A tornado watch is also in effect across the area, with two twisters already reported in South Florida.
In Collier County, emergency vehicles were pulled from the roads Sunday morning as heavy wind gusts began blowing in, the county said. A weather station near Fort Pierce reported a four-hour rainfall total of 10.53 inches between midnight and 5 a.m. The rainfall rate along the east coast of Florida was 3 inches per hour.
“It’s going to be horrible,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the “Today Show.” He warned that some parts of the state will see storm surges up to 15 feet above ground level. “What is really scary is the storm surge,” Mr. Scott said. “It flushes in and flushes out. That’s going to be difficult to survive.”
Scott said his hometown of Naples on the Gulf Coast could be particularly hard hit. “The waves are already up in the Naples Beach,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s going to be devastating to all those homes on the beaches.”
Collier County, on Florida’s southwest coast, ordered additional evacuations Saturday even as officials were scrambling to find space in jammed shelters before Hurricane Irma brings potentially deadly storm surges.
"Life threatening storm surge is occurring now in the Keys and is expected to begin this morning in Southwest Florida," Scott warned in an early morning tweet.
Life threatening storm surge is occurring now in the Keys and is expected to begin this morning in Southwest Florida.— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 10, 2017
Hurricane warnings were in effect for Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to Indian Pass, all of the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.
On Sunday morning, Irma pounded the Miami area with powerful winds and sheets of rain. Wind gusts of about 70 miles an hour hit Miami International Airport and Tamiami Airport, according to the National Weather Service. Officials issued tornado warnings for cities including Hialeah, Pembroke Pines and Hollywood. As the WSJ reports, in a neighborhood west of Miami International Airport, the wind whistled and howled. Trees jerked and shuddered, threatening to split and collapse. Palm trees bent like rubber hoses, and palm fronds littered the ground.
A man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, was killed after he lost control of a truck he has driving that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. The storm left at least 27 people dead across the Caribbean. Hurricane-force winds and torrential rain were already buffeting the Keys, and power was out to the entire island chain.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory that the center of the storm remained offshore but was going to make landfall soon. The storm was centered about 20 miles east of Key West, and it was moving north-northwest at 8 mph. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph near its Key West office. After hitting the Florida Keys, Irma was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast later Sunday.
Florida officials have warned that Irma could be worse than Hurricane Andrew that devastated South Florida in 1992. Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, killed 61 people in the U.S. and caused nearly $48 billion in economic damage in 2017 dollars, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—the costliest storm in U.S. history until Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
More than 380,000 electricity customers had lost power by early Sunday morning, mostly in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The number is expected to grow.
“We are going to lose a lot of power,” Gov. Scott said, cautioning that it will take a while to restore service because crews will have to wait for the storm to pass.
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As of Saturday night, with just hours left until landfall, sometime on Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma is edging ever closer to Florida and has started to batter the state with Hurricane force winds as millions brace for the impact of the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade.
According to ABC and AP, the National Weather Service measured a 74-mph gust in the Florida Keys on Saturday night, marking the beginning of hurricane-force winds that forecasters say will steadily intensify in the coming hours.
A tornado watch is in effect across the area, and at least two such twisters have already been reported.
As of about 10 p.m. Saturday, Irma was 100 miles southeast of Key West with sustained winds of 125 mph. It was moving west, and is expected to turn north and head up the western coast of Florida, making landfall on Sunday.
Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Sept. 9, 2017.
A live feed tracking the hurricane is shown below, courtesy of ABC:
According to Hurricane Tracker, the peak forecast wind gust city-by-city is as follows:
- Miami: 74 mph (Sun. Morning)
- Key West: 144 mph (Sun. Morning)
- Naples: 141 mph (Sun. Morning)#Irma
- Tampa: 139 mph (Sun. Night)
- Orlando: 74 mph (Sun. Night)
- Fort Myers: 134 mph (Sun. Afternoon)
The NHC is expecting a storm surge anywhere between 6 and 12 feet.
The storm, which was downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba overnight but is expected to strengthen once more before again making landfall in Florida, has sent 75,000 people into shelters in Florida. More than six million people, or nearly a third of Florida's population, have been warned to evacuate its path.
The National Hurricane Center on Friday cautioned that Irma's winds would likely be strong enough to uproot trees, bring down power poles and rip off the roofs and some exterior walls of well-built frame homes. "Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States," Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. "We're going to have a couple rough days."
Several counties and cities in south Florida have issued a curfew as the storm draws near. Broward County set a curfew for 4 p.m. Saturday and said no unauthorized vehicles will be allowed on the roads. Charlotte County and the City of Miami Beach will enter one later tonight. Palm Beach County has issued a curfew to prevent looting and other criminal activity as the storm approaches, according to a press release. The curfew goes into effect Saturday at 3 p.m. It is unclear when it will be lifted.
Some 10,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of Irma, about 7,000 of them in Florida alone.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm unprecedented. "This is a life-threatening situation," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday. "Our state has never seen anything like it." The governor stressed the dangers of what he called a "deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge."
President Trump tweeted a video from a Cabinet meeting Saturday, telling people to "get out of" Irma's way. "Property is replaceable but lives are not. and safety has to come first. Don't worry about it, get out of its way," Trump said.
Meteorologists from ABC News are forecasting storm surges of 10 feet in Tampa and Sarasota, and 10 to 15 feet from Fort Myers to Naples. Somewhat lower storm surges of 3 to 6 feet may occur from Miami to Key Largo. Winds were already picking up in Florida early Saturday, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph, as the following clip shows:
Hurricane-force winds with gusts over 115 mph are possible in the Keys by daybreak Sunday. More tornadoes are also likely and a tornado watch was issued Saturday for southern Florida.
According to ABC, Florida state residents should anticipate days-long power outages, FEMA said. Ahead of Irma's arrival in the Sunshine State, the last flights departed Friday night from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami's airport officially remains open, while Fort Lauderdale's airport is closed for Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, many ATM machines across southwest Florida were out of cash by late Friday night after people stocked up in case Hurricane Irma causes power outages that make debit and credit card transactions impossible, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, as millions evacuate, Germain Arena, a large shelter between Naples and Fort Myers along Florida's west coast, is already at capacity Saturday as hundreds of people were in line waiting to get in. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said Saturday morning about 25,000 residents are sheltered in Miami-Dade alone, a number he called "unprecedented in our history."
Traffic streaming out of Florida creeps along northbound Interstate 75 after a
vehicle accident in Lake Park, Ga., Sept. 6, 2017.
"We must remain vigilant," Giménez said. "The storm will still strengthen ... and we will be impacted."