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Latest updates from around the web as deadly Hurricane Irma hits Florida

From the IRMA: Latest updates and local reports series
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Announcing itself with roaring 130 mph winds, Hurricane Irma plowed into the mostly emptied-out Florida Keys early Sunday for the start of what could be a slow, ruinous march up the state's west coast toward the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. 

Here's a look at the latest updates from around the web including photos, social media posts, news briefs and more.

Group rescues manatees stranded in Florida bay

Two manatees were stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Florida's Manatee County.

Several people posted photos of the mammals on Facebook Sunday, hoping rescue workers or wildlife officials would respond. Michael Sechler posted that the animals were far too massive to be lifted, so they gave them water.

Marcelo Clavijo posted that a group of people eventually loaded the manatees onto tarps and dragged them to deeper water.

A big, wide beast—but not quite as monstrous as feared

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Naples, Fla.

An American flag is torn as Hurricane Irma passes through Naples, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys.

It finally hit the mainland as a big wide beast, but not quite as monstrous as once feared. The once-Category 5 storm lost some of its power on the northern Cuba coast.

It's still raking Florida with devastating storm surges, winds and rain. Its top sustained winds are now 110 mph (177 kph) and the center of the storm is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) inland from Fort Myers.

Report from the storm: 'Send cold beer'

It's been difficult to determine the extent of damage Hurricane Irma caused in the Florida Keys, where communication has been difficult and authorities are warning boaters and drivers to stay away.

But The Associated Press has been texting with John Huston, who has been riding out the storm in his house on Key Largo, on the Atlantic side of the island, just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Every few minutes during the height of the storm, he sent another dispatch.

He described whiteout conditions, with howling winds that sucked dry the gulf side of the narrow island, where the tide is usually 8 feet deep. He kept his humor though, texting to "send cold beer" at one point. Now he sees furniture floating down the street with small boats.

He says the storm surge was at least 6 feet deep on his island, 76 miles from Irma's eye. He can see now that structures survived, but the storm left a big mess at ground level.

Irma makes landfall on Marco Island

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Old Tampa Bay

People walk out onto what is normally four feet of water in Old Tampa Bay, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Hurricane Irma pushed water out of the bay, but forecasters told people not to venture out there, because it was going to return with a potentially deadly vengeance.(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Hurricane Irma has made landfall on Marco Island, Florida, as a Category 3 hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma's powerful eye roared ashore at Marco Island just south of Naples with 115-mph (185-kph) winds, for a second U.S. landfall at 3:35 p.m. Sunday.

Category 3 storms have winds from 111 to 129 mph, but 130-mph (21-kph) wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department.

Irma's second U.S. landfall was tied for the 21st strongest landfall in the U.S. based on central pressure. Irma's first U.S. landfall in the Florida Keys was tied for 7th.

Second tower crane collapses

Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso says a second tower crane has collapsed into a building under construction in the city's downtown area. Alfonso told The Associated Press that the crane collapsed in a large development with multiple towers being built by Grand Paraiso.

Another crane collapsed earlier Sunday onto a high-rise building that's under construction in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings, near AmericanAirlines Arena. Officials said no one was injured as the result of either crane's collapse.

High winds are impeding Miami authorities' ability to reach the cranes, and authorities are urging people to avoid the areas.

Alfonso says the approximately two-dozen other cranes in the city are still upright and built to withstand significant wind gusts.

The tower cranes working on construction sites throughout the city were a concern ahead of Irma. Moving the massive equipment, weighing up to 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms), is a slow process that would have taken about two weeks, according to city officials.

Georgia declares state of emergency

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Georgia

Henry's Restaurant manager Nhi Brayman, center, cleans a table while customers eat breakfast behind boarded up windows, Sunday, Sept., 10, 2017, in downtown Savannah, Ga. Hurricane Irma is expected effect parts of Georgia as early as Sunday night. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Georgia's governor has declared an emergency for the entire state as Hurricane Irma's approach triggers widespread severe-weather threats, including the first-ever tropical storm warning for Atlanta.

Gov. Nathan Deal's new emergency declaration came Sunday as Irma churned near Florida. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.

Portions of western Alabama and coastal South Carolina were also under tropical-storm warnings.

The National Weather Service confirmed it had never before issued a tropical-storm warning for Atlanta, where wind gusts could reach 55 mph (88 kph). Meanwhile Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia were under evacuation orders for the second time since Hurricane Matthew brushed the region last October.

Irma headed for the southwest Florida coast

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Miami

Waves crash over a seawall at the mouth of the Miami River from Biscayne Bay, Fla., as Hurricane Irma passes by, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The National Hurricane Center says Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed in all of South Florida.

Irma continues to be armed with 130 mph winds as its large eye passes north of the Keys.

Storm surge is forecast for 10 to 15 feet in southwestern Florida.

Hurricane-force winds are continuing throughout southern Florida, including the Keys. The hurricane center warns that winds affecting upper floors of high-rise building will be much stronger than at ground level.

The hurricane center also emphasizes that Irma will bring life-threatening wind to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of its center.

Winds topple crane in Miami

The National Weather Service says that a crane has collapsed in Miami as strong wind from Hurricane Irma blows in.

It's one of two-dozen in the city.

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. The employee captured video of the collapse.

It wasn't immediately clear if the collapse caused damage or injuries.

The cranes have been a concern.

Construction sites across Irma's potential path in Florida were locked down to remove or secure building materials, tools and debris that could be flung by Irma's winds.

But the horizontal arms of the tall tower cranes remained loose despite the potential danger of collapse. According to city officials, it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes and there wasn't enough time.

Couple rescued while riding out storm in sailboat

Florida sheriff's deputies rescued a couple who tried to ride out Hurricane Irma on a small sailboat.

Christine Weiss of the Martin County Sheriff's Office said a passer-by noticed the couple was in trouble Sunday. It happened just off Jensen Beach, which is on the Atlantic Coast north of Palm Beach.

Video shows a Martin County patrol boat manned by deputies John Howell and James Holloran and Detective Mathew Fritchie pulling up next to the sailboat.

The task of helping the couple onto their boat was precarious as both boats bobbed in choppy water. Deputies then took them to shore.

The names of the couple were not released. They were not injured.

Irma to hit Florida Keys Sunday

Forecasters expect winds of more than 110 mph (177 kph) from Hurricane Irma to smack the Florida Keys around daybreak Sunday.

Irma was lingering over the northern Cuba coast on Saturday. Its forward speed has slowed to 9 mph (15 kph) and it has yet to make the expected big northward turn toward Florida yet. Its maximum sustained winds were 125 mph (205 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center's latest forecast — which still can change a bit and has a margin of error of dozens of miles — projects Irma's potent eye to make three landfalls into Florida.

First, there's a projected Sunday morning hit in the Lower Keys. Then later, after moving over water, Irma is expected to come ashore around Cape Coral or Fort Myers. From there it is predicted to steam inland go over the highly populated Tampa Bay region.

After Tampa, Irma is projected to briefly go back out to the Gulf of Mexico and then hit north of Homosassa Springs for a third landfall. In the following days, Irma is forecast to head through Florida and Georgia into Tennessee.

Hurricane Jose moving into areas just hit by Irma, 1:50 p.m.:

French ministers have decided to step up security on the Caribbean islands of St. Martin and St. Barts that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma and are now facing the approach of Hurricane Jose.

On Friday, looting and gunshots were reported on St. Martin, and a curfew was imposed there and in St. Barts until Wednesday.

According to a statement Saturday, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb is sending two extra gendarme squadrons and some 150 soldiers. They will be there to strengthen checkpoints, reassure the public and prevent further looting and chaos.

Georgia, South Carolina brace for impact

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Hurricane Irma Georgia

Elizabeth Ponder, center, hugs her daughter Exodus Ponder, left, while standing in line at the Savannah Civic Center before evacuating from he path of Hurricane Irma, Saturday, Sept., 9, 2017 in Savannah, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Georgia is bracing for potentially far-flung impacts from Hurricane Irma, which could swamp the coast with storm surge and topple trees and power lines in Atlanta.

The National Hurricane Center placed the entire Georgia coast under a hurricane watch Saturday as residents packed their cars and trickled onto the highways in six counties under a mandatory evacuation. A hurricane watch was also issued for the South Carolina coast from the Georgia line to Edisto Beach, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Charleston.

Evacuations as of 12:20 p.m. ET:

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Hurricane Irma Florida

Traffic rolls at a crawl on the northbound lanes of Florida's Turnpike near the intersection of I-75 in Wildwood, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Motorists are evacuating for the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Irma. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Gov. Rick Scott says the entire west coast of Florida will likely see dangerous affects from storm surge as Hurricane Irma comes ashore Sunday. About 6.3 million of the state's approximately 21 million residents have been asked to evacuate.

During a Saturday news conference, he told those in evacuation zones: "You need to leave — not tonight, not in an hour, right now"

Scott said that the storm surge is expected to be up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) in some areas along the west coast of Florida. In the Tampa Bay area, Scott said the storm surge could be between 5 feet (1.5 meters) and 8 feet (2 meters).

Scott said: "This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen."

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Hurricane Irma

Helen Conklin carries sandbags as her husband, John Conklin, loads the car at Lealman Community Park, 3890 55th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. The couple have lived in Florida since 1979 and say that the "No Name Storm" was the worst they have been through. "We're gonna hold our butts and pray," said Helen. (Lara Cerri/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)


Irma weakens to Category 3, 11:25 a.m. ET:

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds, but it's expected to regain its strength before slamming into Florida.

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APTOPIX Cuba Hurricane Irma

A woman and child use a blanket as protection from wind and rain as they walk in Caibarien, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Hurricane Irma battered Cuba on Saturday with deafening winds and unremitting rain, pushing seawater inland and flooding homes before taking aim at Florida. Early Saturday, the hurricane center said the storm was centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of the town of Caibarien. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

The storm has been pounding Cuba, and forecasters say it will get stronger once it moves away.

Irma is expected to hit the Florida Keys Sunday morning and then Tampa. The National Hurricane Center warned in a Saturday advisory that the storm will bring "life-threatening wind" to much of the state regardless of its exact path. Forecasters also predict storm surges of up to 15 feet in southwestern Florida and rainfall up to 25 inches in the Keys.


Disney World closes

As of Friday afternoon, Disney World in Orlando announced that it would be closing Sunday and Monday. Resort hotels will remain open. The park has closed only five times since 1971 — four for storms and once after 9/11.


Warnings, videos and other social updates:

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