Irma weakens to tropical depression

LARA CERRI | Times Bob Schnorf left and Christopher Fleck boards up their home in Historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg on Friday Sept. 8 2017

LARA CERRI | Times Bob Schnorf left and Christopher Fleck boards up their home in Historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg on Friday Sept. 8 2017

Hurricane Irma weakened to a category 1 storm early Monday and was expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it travels north along the Florida peninsula and into Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said. The Times reports that as many as 5.8 million people in the state are without power, and at least four people are reported dead.

Georgia and SC are expected to face flooding later in the week as the storm continues north, with Tennessee and Alabama also likely to be affected though the power of the hurricane is expected to significantly subside.

Florida outages for Duke Energy Corp, which serves the northern and central parts of the state, increased to nearly 1.2 million, according to the company's website.

Irma made landfall on the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday, but officials still have no idea how bad the damage there is.

The former hurricane remained an enormous, 668km wide storm as its centre moved on from Florida on Monday afternoon, giving its still-formidable gusts and drenching rains a far reach.

It was still unsafe, with high winds reaching up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, heavy downpours and tornado threats in Georgia's southwestern region, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The National Guard was assisting in the recovery, county administrators said. and the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln is headed to Key West, along with three other navy vessels, where they will anchor and provide emergency services.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said there were almost 1 million customers without power in Miami-Dade County alone.

Irma, which some forecasters believe is every bit as powerful as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is on course to hit the western part of Florida Sunday morning.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Twitter he was joining members of the U.S. Coast Guard to view damage from Irma in the Florida Keys.

In the Brickel neighborhood of Miami, the flooding turned the streets into a rapidly moving river.

"We need to be prepared", Buckhorn said.

So far, few images of the damage have popped up, as the storm takes its final breaths on Florida.

Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys.

Gusts topping 90 miles per hour whipped Miami on Sunday, knocking out power to most of the city's residents.

It's the region that will see heavier rain and pinwheeling feeder bands that create a risk for spin-up tornadoes from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning in advance of the approach of the eye.

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