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Hurricane Irma hits Florida with huge storm surges

Hurricane Irma hits Florida with huge storm surges”

At 06:00 GMT, the centre of the hurricane was about 25 miles (40km) north-east of Tampa, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Handfuls of holdout residents, having defied calls to evacuate, hunkered down as Irma tore over the Keys, ripping boats from their moorings, flattening palm trees and downing power lines across the island chain popular for fishing and scuba diving.

- Its forecast track had moved slightly westward meaning the storm was expected to move up Florida's west coast Sunday.

Florida Power and Light estimated 3.4 million of its customers could be without power at some point during Irma, the company's largest number of outages ever.

"Due to its recent more inland push, Irma's center is now forecast to remain over Florida and then move over the southeastern United States for the duration of its existence", the weather service said, predicting it would become a tropical depression over MS by Tuesday afternoon and dissipate over adding that it should dissipate over Tennessee on Wednesday.

President Trump urged any USA residents still in Hurricane Irma's path Saturday to "just get out of its way" and not worry about possessions, as he monitored the powerful storm's advance on Florida from the secluded Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. He said Irma was risky and life-threatening, and pleaded with people in the storm's path to "heed the warnings" of local officials.

Almost 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to evacuate, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

A truck is seen on its side after being blown over as Hurricane Irma passed through on September 10, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

At the White House, Trump described Irma as a "rough hurricane" and "some big monster" and said he was most concerned about its strength.

Trump on Friday signed a $15.3 billion measure to replenish accounts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and speed federal assistance to victims of Hurricane Harvey, which struck southeast Texas and neighboring Louisiana towns just three weeks ago.

Wisconsin's Leon Jacobs stops Florida Atlantic's Devin Singletary on a third down run during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday Sept. 9 2017 in Madison Wis

"We may have been a little bit lucky in that it went on the west, and it may not have been quite as disruptive, but we're going to see, it's going to play out over the next five or six hours", Mr Trump added. A storm surge warning is in place for the Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, and an extensive stretch of coastline wrapping most of the way around the state.

As much as 20 inches of rain was predicted through Wednesday across the Florida peninsula and southeast Georgia, and maximum wind gusts above 100 miles per hour are expected in much of western Florida.

Forecasters expect Irma's center to stay inland over Florida, weakening further into a tropical storm over far northern Florida or southern Georgia on Monday as it speeds up its forward motion.

Six million people have been ordered to flee the path of the hurricane - one of the biggest evacuations in U.S. history - which is expected to trigger massive storm surges through vast swaths of the Sunshine State.

How did it arrive in Florida?

Packing 130-mph winds, Hurricane Irma knocked out electricity to more than 1 million Florida homes and businesses on Sunday and threatened the state's Gulf Coast with potentially catastrophic flooding.

In downtown Miami, two of the two dozen construction cranes looming over the skyline collapsed in the wind.

Businesses on both Florida coasts were shuttered while Miami airport was closed and not expected to reopen until Tuesday.

Miami streets were flooded as the water crept up on and around Brickell Avenue, which runs from the waterfront through the city's financial district and newly built high rises.



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