Irma weakens but pummels Florida with winds and flooding

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Irma weakens but pummels Florida with winds and flooding

"Significant weakening" is expected for Hurricane Irma, which has been downgraded to Category 2 status with maximum sustained winds of 110mph.

The Miami Herald has reported the 'worst of Irma is almost over' for the city which saw main streets effectively turned into rivers. Meanwhile people are battening down the hatches further north in the state, as well as in parts of Georgia and South Carolina.

In its latest update, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported Irma made landfall a couple of hours ago near Marco Island, Florida with an estimated intensity of 100 kt.

"The eye just passed over Naples, and assuming some decay over land, the current intensity estimate is 95 kt," the NHC said.

"The interaction with the Florida Peninsula along with strong southwesterly shear should cause significant weakening, but Irma's large and powerful circulation will likely maintain hurricane strength until Monday morning at the earliest. 

"Irma should be well inland and weaken to a remnant low in 72 hours."

The center said life-threatening wind and torm surge from Irma would continue in the Florida Keys and southwestern Florida, spreading into the state's northwest tonight and Monday. 

"The threat of catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected," the center said.

"Irma will bring life-threatening wind impacts to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of the center. 

"Wind hazards from Irma are also expected to spread northward through Georgia and into portions of Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina."

The NHC added heavy rain and inland flooding would quickly spread to the rest of the southeast U.S., and would be in significant in the Florida Peninsula and southeast Georgia.

"Significant river flooding is also possible beginning Monday and Tuesday in much of eastern and central Georgia, western South Carolina, and western North Carolina, where average rainfall of 3 to 8 inches and isolated 12 inch amounts are expected," the center said.

"Mountainous parts of these states will be especially vulnerable to flash flooding.  Farther west, Irma is expected to produce average amounts of 2 to 5 inches in parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, where isolated higher amounts and local flooding may occur."

In response to a request from Florida Governor Rick Scott, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration today, authorizing federal funding to flow directly to Floridians impacted by the hurricane and reimbursing local communities and the state government to aid in response and recovery.

"It’s clear that the entire country is standing with Florida as Hurricane Irma batters our state right now," Governor Scott said in a release. 

"I have heard from people all across the world that want to help and support Florida. It’s encouraging, and on behalf of all Floridians – we appreciate the support and constant collaboration.

"I am thankful that President Trump, who I’ve spoken with multiple times this week, has been 100 percent supportive of our efforts and offered every resource of the federal government. Working with local emergency management professionals and FEMA, we will make sure that no expense is spared to help families respond and recover."

CNN has reported Irma to be the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Damages to the produce industry are still unknown in the state, which in the produce industry is a key grower of citrus, tomatoes and strawberries, and is also one of the country's key sources of exotic tropical fruit, both through imports and a small amount of local production. 


#hurricaneirma making her final stand in #miami @cnn @weatherchannel

Una publicación compartida de Matthew Spuler (@matthew.spuler) el

Headline photo: NOAA


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