Tampa Bay waters get sucked backward ahead of Hurricane Irma

Frederick Owens
September 11, 2017

The storm engulfed almost the entire Florida peninsula, wreaking havoc from the state's southernmost point up to the Georgia line, from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf side.

By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 miles per hour (135 kph).

The outer bands of Hurricane Irma began to lash the Florida Keys and whip up strong surf in Miami on Saturday, as the storm already cut power to almost 25,000 people, said Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

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

Along the Gulf Coast, two manatees became stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Florida's Manatee County. "Hurricane Irma is now impacting our state", he said at a news conference.

A Miami woman who went into labor was guided through delivery by phone when authorities couldn't reach her because of high winds and street flooding. Strong river flooding is possible over the next five days in much of central Georgia and southern SC.

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.

"There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge flooding along portions of the coasts of Florida, Georgia and SC, where a Storm Surge Warning remains in effect". The governor also ordered that the state government be shut Monday and Tuesday "for all employees except essential personnel".

More than 50,000 people had signed up by Sunday after 22-year Ryon Edwards of Daytona Beach posted the invitation with the note, "YO SO THIS GOOFY LOOKING WINDY HEADASS NAMED IRMA SAID THEY PULLING UP ON US, LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST".

"Well", he added, "we're about to get punched in the face". "Elsewhere, tropical storm force winds are anticipated with gusts to around 60 miles per hour".

More news: Richard Branson rides out Irma in his wine cellar

"Stay off the roads, stay off the streets, let us complete our assessment, clear the roads of water, power lines, trees and then you can get out there and determine what happened to your individual property or your neighborhood", said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

In metro Atlanta, MARTA suspended its Monday bus and rail service ahead of the storm.

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, halted passenger flights through at least Monday.

Some businesses are suspending their operations and closing early on Monday.

As a Category 5 storm, Irma cut across the northern coast of Cuba, where at least 10 people were killed, according to The Guardian. Production is expected to resume on Wednesday.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has already declared a state emergency for all 159 counties as Irma barrels toward the state. High winds pushed choppy waves over the seawall in the Battery, a historic site popular with tourists in Charleston.

The track has the eye over Fort Myers Sunday at 8 p.m. and Tampa around 6 a.m. Monday. "She's doing fine", Regalado said of the mother.

Next, Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Your First Alert Weather Team is monitoring powerful Hurricane Irma in the Florida Straits.

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