Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Irma Weakens to Tropical Depression - National Hurricane Center

Irma Weakens to Tropical Depression - National Hurricane Center

But by the time it rolled through in the middle of the night Monday, it was down to a moderate Category 2, with winds around 100 miles per hour or less. Forecasters had expected the center of the storm to strike the Miami area, but now the path has shifted west to Tampa.

The Tampa-St Petersburg area, with a population of about three million, has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

The First Alert Weather team has been monitoring the tropics closely over the past week, starting with the formation of Irma moving over the west African coast last Monday.

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

Hurricane force winds are expected to continue this morning across south Florida as Irma moves northward.

Irma - at one time the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic - left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean. From there it is predicted to steam inland Sunday afternoon over the highly populated Tampa Bay region.

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More than 6.3 million people in Florida were told to evacuate, with warnings of a "life-threatening" storm surge.

Almost all tropical cyclones that hit the United States produce at least one tornado, "provided enough of the. cyclone's circulation moves over land", the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

"So, usually the eastern side of the storm has winds opposite of the winds aloft, so that's where you have high levels of (vertical) sheer", Ward said.

In one of the biggest evacuations ever ordered in the USA, about 6.4 million people in Florida - more than a quarter of the state's population - were warned to leave. The national electric company announced that high winds were forcing it to cut power to Havana, and the Ministry of Communications said it was shutting down all public wi-fi receivers in the capital.

He told NBC's Today Show that though authorities had prepared all week for the arrival of Irma, the prospect of such a large storm surge was "really scary".

Just in case some people didn't understand the joke, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office tweeted late Saturday: "DO NOT shoot weapons @ (hashtag) Irma".

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Streets emptied across the bottom half of the Florida peninsula, and some 127,000 people huddled in shelters. "The first responders and crews on the scene are adamant that the Keys cannot handle any more people until they can assist the ones who are there and in need". Bridges leaves behind an 8-year-old son. Irma also appears to have caused less structural damage than Wilma, she said.

Wells Fargo Securities said private-sector insured Irma damage is now estimated in the $40 billion range or less and will likely fall short of Hurricane Katrina's $50 billion of losses in 2005.

'You should ensure you have your own contingency plans in place and consider your travel plans very carefully'.

- Disney World was forced to close, for only the sixth time in its 45-year history.

We remain dry for one more day although winds will gradually increase through the day as the pressure gradient continues to tighten, and gusts of 20-25 miles per hour will be possible through the afternoon.

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