Irma Hits Tampa as a Category 1 Storm

Weakened storm still packs a punch
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2017 5:07 AM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2017 5:23 AM CDT
Irma Hits Tampa as a Category 1 Storm
A rough surf surrounds Boynton Beach inlet as Hurricane Irma hits in Boynton Beach, Fla.   (Jim Rassol/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm and could lose hurricane status by the end of Monday—but authorities warn that it is still very dangerous and the true extent of its destruction is still unclear. The AP reports that the 400-mile wide storm, which hit the Tampa Bay area early Monday with heavy rain and winds of up to 85mph, is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it moves over northern Florida and southern Georgia on Monday. "I've not heard of catastrophic damage," Florida emergency management director Bryan Koon said late Sunday. "It doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It means it hasn't gotten to us yet." The latest:

  • Some 650,000 Tampa Bay homes and businesses lost power overnight, adding to a total of more than 3.5 million across Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Tampa is considered exceptionally vulnerable to storm surges, and Mayor Bob Buckhorn warned Sunday that the city will be "inundated with unprecedented amounts of water."

  • ABC News reports that the death toll from the storm in Florida is now at least five, including a person found dead in a home in the Florida Keys early Monday. The other four died in hurricane-related car and truck crashes.
  • In Miami, the storm surge was smaller than earlier forecasts suggested but it was still enough to turn streets into rivers, the Miami Herald reports. The high winds toppled at least two construction cranes in the city and another in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Naples, Fla., was among the areas where water receded from the coast, drawn off by the power of the hurricane in what is known as a "negative surge," the New York Times reports. "DO NOT GO IN. The water will surge back & could overtake you," warned Gov. Rick Scott.
  • The Guardian reports that as Irma moves north, police in Miami and other cities have warned people to stay indoors until the streets can be cleared of downed power lines.
  • Dozens of people were arrested for looting in Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the storm, including nine people in Fort Lauderdale captured on Local 10 news footage walking out of shoe stores with stolen items.
  • In Orlando, the fire department began responding to a backlog of emergency calls at 5am following an eight-hour lockdown during the strongest winds, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
  • CNN looks at the records Irma has already broken or is set to break, including possibly the largest evacuation in the history of the US.
(More Hurricane Irma stories.)

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