Latest: Irma weakens as it batters Florida, Georgia - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Latest: Irma weakens as it batters Florida, Georgia

Latest: Irma weakens as it batters Florida, Georgia

Posted: Updated:

POSTED BY:  Channel 8 Eyewitness News
8@klkntv.com

Update:

A flash flood emergency was issued for Charleston, South Carolina, this afternoon as Irma, which was downgraded to a tropical storm this morning, batters the Southeast with torrential rain and dangerous storm surges.

The storm has killed 37 people in the Caribbean and at least seven people in the U.S., and it's left nearly 6 million Florida customers without power.

As of 2:00 p.m., Irma was about 55 miles east of Tallahassee, Florida, moving north-northwest at 17 mph with sustained winds of 60 mph.

A tornado watch across parts of the Georgia and South Carolina coast, including Savannah and Charleston, has been extended into this evening.

Irma could also bring 50 to 60 mph wind gusts and flooding to Atlanta tonight.

This morning, water raced through the streets of Jacksonville, Florida, bringing record levels of storm surge along the coast and inland rivers.

Tallahassee appears to have been spared from injuries, major damage or flooding, the emergency management director for Leon County told ABC News this morning. The major issue there are power outages from trees that fell over power lines.

For the latest, click on the link below:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/irma-leaves-dead-florida-37-dead-caribbean-millions/story?id=49758372


PHOTO: A car sits abandoned in storm surge waters along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard as Hurricane Irma hits the southern part of the state Sept. 10, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Sep 10, 2017, 7:00 AM ET

Carlos Barria/Reuters

UPDATED: 

Hurricane Irma is pummeling Florida with powerful winds and rain after making landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm this morning. The hurricane, which this afternoon was downgraded to a Category 3, has left at least three people dead in the state, including a sheriff's deputy, and over 1.5 million households and businesses without power.

In Miami, winds whipped around high-rise buildings at speeds approaching 100 mph, the National Weather Service said. A 94 mph wind gust was recorded at Miami International Airport.

A tower crane slammed by the high winds collapsed on top of a high-rise under construction in Miami this morning, city officials said.

The Miami-Dade Police Department tweeted that its officers are sheltered for their safety and cannot respond to calls for help, warning residents, "DO NOT venture out!"

Irma this morning also brought wind gusts of 120 mph to the National Key Deer Refuge on the Florida Keys and 89 mph winds to Key West.

Florida Keys officials said today that residents who evacuated should not return until further notice.

By 11 a.m., the storm had moved away from the Keys and up toward Naples on Florida's west coast.

Irma is forecast to move up the western coastline of Florida this afternoon, with another landfall possible later today near Fort Myers and Naples, with winds of up to 115 mph expected this afternoon in the western part of Collier County.

At 3 p.m., Irma was about 20 miles south of Naples.

Wind gusts of 75 mph were recorded at the Naples Airport early today, and officials were warning people to stay indoors and away from windows.

Some now sheltered in Naples had fled from the eastern side of Florida when it was first forecast that Irma would hit the eastern coastline. The mayor of Naples said those in hotels around the city are being ordered out of common areas and into their rooms.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents of dangerous storm surges that could reach 10 to 15 feet above sea level in the Naples area.

"Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down," Scott said Saturday. The dangerous storm surge "will rush in and could kill you." 

"You need to stay in a safe place," the governor said. "Be prepared, listen to local evacuation advisories."

The National Weather Service warned Florida residents that being in the eye of a hurricane can lead to a false sense of security: "IF winds go calm, you're in the eye. Stay inside! Winds dramatically shift and will do so violently! STAY INSIDE!"

Fatalities in Florida

As Irma bore down on Florida this morning, at least three deaths were reported in the state.

A man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, was killed after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said.

Two other people, a sheriff's deputy and a corrections officer, died from a two-car crash in the rain in Hardee County, which is about 60 miles inland from Sarasota, officials said.

The deputy, identified as Julie Bridges, was a 13-year veteran of the county force, said Hardee County Sheriff Arnold Lanier. She was heading home after a night shift, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The second victim was a sergeant at the Hardee Correctional Institute who had been on his way to work, the highway patrol said.

Hurricane Irma has left at least 27 people dead in the Caribbean, according to authorities.

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As Hurricane Irma edged closer and closer to Florida early Sunday morning, it gained momentum and strengthened to a Category 4 storm around 2 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center, reported ABC meteorologist Dan Manzo.

As of 6 a.m., Irma's center was 30 miles south-southeast of Key West, traveling northwest at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Wind gusts in Key West were clocking in at 66 mph.

A weather station near Fort Pierce reported a four-hour rainfall total of 10.53 inches between midnight and 5 a.m. The rainfall rate along the east coast of Florida was 3 inches per hour.

"It looks as if the destructive eyewall of Hurricane #Irma will overspread the Lower #FLKeys between 7-8 am EDT," the National Weather Services' Key West office tweeted at 4:25 a.m.

The NWS then followed up with a tweet that read, "EVERYONE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS. IT IS TIME TO HUNKER DOWN. THE WORST WINDS ARE YET TO COME."

 Follow

NWS Key West ?@NWSKeyWest

***EVERYONE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS***

***IT IS TIME TO HUNKER DOWN***

***THE WORST WINDS ARE YET TO COME*** 

3:28 AM - Sep 10, 2017

 Follow

Daniel Manzo @DanManWX

The eye wall will reach the Lower Keys by 7-8AM EDT per @NWSKeyWest

3:36 AM - Sep 10, 2017

 Follow

Daniel Manzo @DanManWX

Updated timing forecast of Hurricane Irma. Entire west coast of Florida on the dangerous right side of the storm.

1:01 AM - Sep 10, 2017

The storm, which had been downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba early Saturday morning, has sent 124,000 people to Red Cross and Red Cross-affiliated shelters, as of Sunday morning. That figure does not include church and ad hoc shelters. More than six million people have been warned to evacuate its path.

A slew of counties and cities in south Florida have issued curfews. Counties include Broward, Flagler, Orange, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Seminole. The cities of Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Homestead, Key Biscayne, Melbourne Beach, Coral Springs, and Coral Gables also issued curfews.

Palm Beach and Broward counties entered a curfew earlier this afternoon, and Charlotte County and the City of Miami Beach will enter one later tonight.

Some 10,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of Irma, about 7,000 of them in Florida alone.

President Trump tweeted a video from a Cabinet meeting Saturday, telling people to "get out of" Irma's way.

"Property is replaceable but lives are not. and safety has to come first. Don't worry about it, get out of its way," Trump said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm unprecedented.

"This is a life-threatening situation," Scott said Saturday. "Our state has never seen anything like it."

The governor stressed the dangers of what he called a "deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge."

 Follow

Lisa Steinberg @GoodHumorGrl

Powerful rain and wind are pounding right outside of our house. Thunder, lightning, and flooding too.  @CityofWeston

8:28 PM - Sep 9, 2017

T

 Follow

Andrew Perez @PerezLocal10

FINALLY getting a quick break from the rain in North Miami but folks already seeing flooding as  gets closer @WPLGLocal10

9:43 PM - Sep 9, 2017

 Follow

Carlos Suarez ?@CarlosWPLG

  We are done for the night. Blinding rain near FLL.

11:24 PM - Sep 9, 2017

ABC News meteorologists are forecasting storm surges of 10 feet in Tampa and Sarasota, and 10 to 15 feet from Fort Myers to Naples. Somewhat lower storm surges of 3 to 6 feet may occur from Miami to Key Largo.

Winds were already picking up in Florida early Saturday, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph.

Hurricane-force winds with gusts over 115 mph are possible in the Keys by daybreak Sunday.

Power outages, halted flights and empty ATMs in Florida

As of 6 a.m. ET Sunday, 381,429 customers of various Florida utility companies were without power. Florida Power and Light, the state's largest utility, said 317,440 of its customers were without power.

Ahead of Irma's arrival in the Sunshine State, the last flights departed Friday night from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami's airport officially remains open, while Fort Lauderdale's airport is closed for Saturday and Sunday.

Many ATM machines across southwest Florida were out of cash by late Friday night after people stocked up in case Hurricane Irma causes power outages that make debit and credit card transactions impossible, The Associated Press reported.

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