Hurricane Irma makes landfall over the Florida Keys

Hurricane Irma makes landfall over the Florida Keys”

It slammed into the Florida Keys island chain as a powerful Category Four storm on Sunday.

Hurricane Irma bludgeoned Florida on Sunday morning, snapping trees like matchsticks and knocking out power to more than 1 million people.

Nearly 7 million customers in five Southeastern states are without power.

What awaits residents in the Middle and Upper Keys is unclear, but there are signs that Irma, which made its first U.S. landfall on Cudjoe Key, about 20 miles east of Key West, was anything but merciful to the Conch Republic.

He said: "Some 6.5 million Floridians, that is 62 per cent of the state, without power at this hour still and we are at the entrance here into really the only entrance way into the Florida Keys".

"I'm just glad it's over", Allan Neuzil said. But recent storms, such as Irma and even Harvey in Texas, make policymakers wonder what more can be done now that the area's packed with people and infrastructure. "This is a deadly storm, and our state has never seen anything like it".

About 30,000 people heeded orders to leave the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused, in part because, to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride. And the winds go around the storm in a counter-clockwise direction.

Though weakening, Irma remains a large storm, with wind gusts outward to 415 miles from its center, Alabama Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Jim Stefkovich said in his morning update today.

Parts of the US Virgin Islands also lay in Irma's path, though Trump does not now have plans to stop there.

That track near the north coast of Cuba has had an effect on Irma's intensity, but that is largely expected to be academic relative to Irma's future impact on Florida.

Jones said the severity of the storm surge depended on which side of the storm Tampa was on. Trump plans to visit Florida on Thursday.

The leading edge of the enormous storm bent palm trees and spit rain across South Florida, knocking out power to more than 170,000 homes and businesses, as the eye approached Key West.

Hurricane warnings remained in place Saturday in parts of the Bahamas.

The Keys: While the core of the storm and worst winds passed the Keys early Sunday morning, the Weather Service warned storm surge flooding was ongoing as winds on the storm's backside shoved water over the islands.

The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, the state's reinsurer created in 1993 after Hurricane Andrew, has an accumulated $17 billion, according to The New York Times.

Irma has weakened to a tropical depression, and heavy rainfall is continuing across the southeastern USA, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Millions of people have been evacuated from their homes, with shelters protecting tens of thousands of people from the category-4 storm, which has already claimed one life in Florida and 24 in the Caribbean.

What's with all these hurricane forecast models?

"It's a worst-case scenario for Florida on the west coast", said FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

Irma's peak winds of 105 miles per hour, with higher gusts, had dropped 20 miles per hour from the morning, making it a Category 2 hurricane (down from a Category 4). Its eye finally spun out of Florida on Monday and was moving inland, first over south Georgia as the storm system gradually weakened. That means winds and storm surge that began hammering Miami-Dade before dawn could continue.

Irma's course change caught many off guard and triggered a major round of last-minute evacuations in the Tampa area. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for some barrier islands, while Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the state of emergency to include 94 counties.

A scrap yard full of vehicles is seen covered by floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Callahan, Fla.

Barbuda, one of two major islands in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, was barely habitable for its 1,800 residents after Irma, with about 95% of its buildings damaged, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.

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