Irma loses hurricane status but keeps spreading misery

Isaac Cain
September 14, 2017

Particularly for Florida residents, the shortages exacerbated what were already stressful preparations for a massive, threatening hurricane.

The only impacts from Hurricane Jose are likely to be rough surf and unsafe rip currents through at least early next week, forecasters say.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach put it simpler: "Irma was a beast". "Everybody needs to be ready for a potential hurricane in about six to seven days, regardless of what happens".

Irma made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane late Friday night along the Camaguey Archipelago of Cuba. It's the seventh-largest storm on record to hit the United States and could prove one of the most devastating.

Maximum sustained winds stayed around 125 miles per hour (201 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It beat Typhoon Haiyan, which also reached 300km/h before killing more than 6000 people in the Philippines.

At the Coral Gables building that was evacuated, five firefighters went up the dark emergency stairwell, strapped Ofelia Carrillo - a frail 97-year-old woman who is immobile and has heart problems - to a special evacuation chair and carried her down. He's not so sure he will evacuate next time because he doesn't think the forecasters get the storm's path right, anyway.

Irma claimed its first victim when it was still far off, sending a "monster wave" to drown a teenage surfer in Barbados. Meanwhile, authorities have sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to Florida to assist in search-and-rescue operations amid reports of devastation in the Keys, which felt Irma's full fury when it blew ashore Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane.

Some 4.3 million homes and businesses, or about 9 million people, were without power at midday Wednesday in Florida and nearby states.

- People still in shelters in Florida: 13,000.

People stand outside a house surrounded by floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Callahan, Fla., outside Jacksonville. The damages reached $27 billion.

Things are even much worse on low-lying islands in the Caribbean and the Atlantic.

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It narrowly skirted Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Irma's core was near the heavily populated Tampa-St.

The French Caribbean territories of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, devastated days earlier by Irma, had been on lockdown overnight for the second hurricane. And by moving briefly over land, it may have spared Florida a tougher punch.

If Irma travels due north, she will make landfall again in the Naples area, moving through the everglades causing her to slow down before she gets to the city of Tampa.

Jacksonville grappled with a record storm surge on Monday, prompting the Coast Guard to deploy boats to rescue residents.

Irma was more vulnerable, but by no means weak.

All customers who lost electricity on the eastern side of the state will likely have power restored by the end of this weekend, Florida Power & Light said Tuesday. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, where many schools canceled classes. Roofs seemed peeled off by can-openers; power poles were nowhere to be seen.

Irma wreaked havoc in the Florida Keys and along the entire length of the Florida peninsula.

Though weakening, Irma remains a large storm, with wind gusts outward to 415 miles from its center, Alabama Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Jim Stefkovich said in his morning update today.

Elsewhere on the island, Irma wreaked havoc on sugar and banana fields in the central part of the island and swamped some of the exclusive resorts and hotels that are key to the tourism industry.

Crews also worked to fix two washed-out, 300-foot (90-meter) sections of USA 1, the highway that runs through the Keys, and check the safety of the 42 bridges linking the islands.

Irma then sloshed through Georgia and Alabama as a tropical storm, blowing down tall trees and power lines, before dissipating Tuesday over Tennessee and Ohio.

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