Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Tornadoes are embedded in heavy squalls as Irma spins toward Florida Keys

Tornadoes are embedded in heavy squalls as Irma spins toward Florida Keys

"There is no seawall whatsoever", Spuler said.

The weather service's Miami office said in a Tweet that one of its employees witnessed the crane boom and counterweight collapse in downtown Miami. Major hurricane force winds were expected over the Keys by sunrise on Sunday, the centre said.

Peak wind speeds of 30-40 miles per hour and gusts up to 55 miles per hour are expected in the Lowcountry early Monday morning and into Monday evening, the Weather Service said.

Direct federal financial assistance for impacted Florida families in the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough; Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties. Some 2,000 members are helping in about 200 shelters across the state, Calhoun said.

Damaged buildings and fallen trees litter the island of St. Martin, after the passing of Hurricane Irma, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The state government will be closed Monday and Tuesday except for essential personnel.

- Irma's center was 110 miles southeast of Key West at 8 p.m. ET Saturday and moving west-northwest at a relatively slow 7 mph. It was the costliest hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the United States until it was surpassed by Katrina in 2005. Restaurants on the seaside drive pulled down their shutters and stacked sandbags against the storm.

At least 1.6 million Florida homes and businesses had lost power, according to Florida Power & Light and other utilities.

Irma's threat prompted Tampa officials to order a 6 p.m. curfew for Sunday evening.

Authorities are urging people who chose to ride out Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys to remain indoors until the storm passes. Storm surge can tear apart buildings and the resulting debris is added to the deadly churning water.

"You can replace material things but your life is very important".

"There is no safe area within the Keys, and you put your life in your own hands by not evacuating", Brock Long told CNN. I looked at our traffic cameras around the state this morning.

Mass evacuations have sent throngs onto jammed highways heading north and created a severe gas shortage in some parts the state.

Irma was smacking the Keys 57 years to the day that Hurricane Donna hit the same area in 1960, destroying almost 75 per cent of the island chain's buildings.

The coastal city of Naples, Florida, was directly in Irma's path on Sunday afternoon.

The storm's track along Florida's west coast "is nearly, if not, a worst-case scenario for Tampa Bay", said Rob Miller, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc.in State College, Pennsylvania.

In the fishing town of Caibarien, residents swept mud from beachside homes after storm surge drove 3 feet (1 meter) of seawater up the shore. "I couldn't sleep. I'm scared of hurricanes and this is the worst I have been through", she said.

"I've heard there's some significant damage, right where the eye of the storm hit", Scott told NBC.

Ngai plans to crouch in the bathtub when it makes landfall. "We've moved everything away from windows. We're hoping for the best - we've bought nonperishable foods and water, and we have a flashlight".

For days, forecasters had warned that Irma was taking dead aim at the Miami metropolitan area and the rest of Florida's Atlantic coast. "This likely will be one of the most challenging restorations that our country has ever seen".

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee on Sunday and issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, which was hit by the storm last week, the White House said.

In Fort Myers, where storm surge warnings are in effect, Evanson Ngai stayed up all night, tracking the hurricane. Schools in the state planned to close Monday.

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