Weakened Irma lashes Tampa Bay region; full impact unknown

Sep 14, 2017, 00:54
Weakened Irma lashes Tampa Bay region; full impact unknown

Hurricane Irma wasn't the only vortex that the southeastern USA had to worry about Sunday.

More than six million homes and businesses remained without power on Tuesday in Florida and thousands were still displaced as the full scale of the damage left by Hurricane Irma was revealed. This is the longest any cyclone has maintained that intensity on record, according to Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the situation was not as bad as it could have been, but warned residents that unsafe storm surge continued.

Approximately 25 per cent of the houses on the islands that make up the Florida Keys have been destroyed, while 65 per cent have suffered major damage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said.

Across social media, scores of terrifying videos and images have been shared of what's been called one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the Atlantic, having killed two dozen people in the Caribbean.

The massive storm, which had menaced Florida for days and triggered evacuation orders covering 5.6 million people, made two official landfalls on Sunday, reports The Washington Post.

Update 1 a.m.: Hurricane Irma sustains Category 2 hurricane winds of 100 mph as its center moves 15 miles southwest of Lakeland. Petersburg area early Monday, though in a much-weakened state. It's now bearing down on the Tampa-St. Even areas that did not face a direct hit from Irma saw flooding and downed power lines.

Many streets were flooded in downtown Miami and other cities. As per weathermen, Irma will downgrade to a tropical storm during the next 24 hours.

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Currently, more than 3 million customers are without power across Florida, according to utility companies.

Another hurricane, Jose, strengthened to an "extremely risky category 4" storm, the National Hurricane Center said on Friday.

Irma was at one point the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, with winds up to 185 miles per hour (298 kph).

As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to survey the damage, but authorities warned that conditions remain risky and asked people not to venture outside because of a curfew.

"It's terrible, what we saw", Scott said.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office said his body was discovered by first responders who were patrolling during lulls in the bad weather on Saturday afternoon.

- A storm surge warning wraps around the state, from Brevard County to Tampa Bay. This means most people who chose to stay hunkered down at home or in a shelter can expect hurricane-force winds in excess of 74 miles per hour. "Preparation for this storm will not detract from World Vision's continued response to Hurricane Harvey", the children's charity said.

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