Hurricane Irma Damage Estimates Smaller Than Feared

Hurricane Irma Damage Estimates Smaller Than Feared”

"This is a storm of enormous destructive power, and I ask everyone in the storm path to heed all instructions, get out of its way", the President said, echoing a tweet he posted Saturday evening.

In Redington Shores west of Tampa, Carl Roberts spent a sleepless night riding out Irma in his 17th-floor beachfront condo.

Cuba said 10 people had been killed over the weekend, bringing the death toll to at least 40 people since Irma pounded a string of Caribbean islands as a Category 4 and 5 hurricane starting on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Irma executed a westward swing toward Florida's Gulf coast that appeared to spare the Miami metropolitan area of the catastrophic direct hit that forecasters had been warning of for days.

Hurricane Irma officially made landfall at 9:10 Cudjoe Key. A hurricane warning and storm surge warning is in effect for Pinellas and many other counties in south Florida, along the west coast and Tampa Bay. "Everyone in the Florida Keys, it's time to hunker down".

Irma will continue weakening into a tropical depression somewhere over northern Alabama or central Tennessee, but its swath of rain will extend from Arkansas to southwest Virginia. Florida Gov. Rick Scott flew over the hard-hit but isolated Keys on Monday and said he saw "devastation" that included boats washed ashore and mobile homes pummeled by the storm. On the current forecast track, it will pass near or over Tampa Bay and Pinellas County.

At a press briefing Saturday morning, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri urged people in evacuation zones to get out now. Reed said before you go to the airport, make sure that the flights are planning to depart and if the airline is open.

Irma is one of two tropical systems churning in the region.

The country was struck by a powerful quake on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital and triggering a tsunami warning.

Irma's rampage across Florida broke records in Jacksonville before heading north to torment Georgia and beyond. A strike near Tampa could cause as much as $250bn in damage. Locally, our impacts from Irma passing to our northeast will be a general inconvenience than anything else with rounds of showers rotating in and an increase in clouds and gusty breezes at times. "But it's a 1 in 20 chance right now". But given its mammoth size and strength and its projected course, it could still prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida and inflict damage on a scale not seen here in 25 years.

Preliminary estimates show losses across the Caribbean nearing $10bn, CoreLogic, a risk modeler in Irvine, California, said.

Damage in Marco Island, Florida.

Another hurricane, Katia, made landfall in eastern Mexico late Friday, killing two people.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the situation was not as bad as it could have been, but warned residents that risky storm surge continues. "You need to be afraid of the storm surge!"

"A few tornadoes are possible across northeast Florida and southeast portions of Georgia and SC through tonight", the hurricane center said. Irma maintained a Category 5 status and sparked fear in many people as it continued to race towards the U.S.

More than 2 million homes and businesses across the state lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. Crews from as far as MA and California are in state to aid restoration efforts.

The military was helping in relief operations, with the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier arriving off Florida late Sunday to help in the southern part of the state and along the Florida Keys. Irma may also curb natural gas demand in one of the largest USA markets.

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