Irma to re-strengthen to Category 5 storm before making landfall

Calvin Saunders
September 13, 2017

Irma has caused as yet untold damage from wind and storm surges since making landfall in southern Florida, following hot on the heels of Hurricane Harvey's impact on Houston. During that storm, "I lived the experience of feeling that I was inside a blender", she said.

To the south, winds knocked a utility pole and power lines onto a sheriff's cruiser late Sunday in Polk County, illustrating the unsafe conditions for emergency personnel.

The massive storm triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people before it made two landfalls in the state Sunday.

Almost 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

Irma hit Florida yesterday morning as a unsafe Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, but by afternoon as it barreled up the west coast, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 177kph.

For the entire week, meteorologists said rain totals in West Virginia would not exceed one inch. "What's going to happen now?"

Flooding in the Brickell neighborhood as Hurricane Irma passes Miami, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017.

Gusts topping 90 miles per hour whipped Miami on Sunday, knocking out power to most of the city's residents.

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"It's organized chaos. We've been doing this for a few days, and we've done it before", Brandon Bolinski with FEMA said.

"Now if it tracks off the west coast of Florida, that could push some of the worst storm surge into Tampa and Tampa Bay".

Emergency managers in the islands declared on Monday "the Keys are not open for business" and warned that there was no fuel, electricity, running water or cell service and that supplies were low and anxiety high.

North-eastern Florida cities including Jacksonville were facing flash flooding, with the sheriff's office pulling residents from waist-deep water.

"If you need to get out, put a white flag in front of your house". Its outer bands were also blowing into Georgia, where the storm's center was expected to arrive later in the day. If the storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico, Masters said that surge could lean more towards 8 feet.

Miami and other heavily populated areas of southeastern Florida are on the worst side of the storm.

The utilities had thousands of workers, some from as far away as California, ready to help restore power once Irma's high winds pass their service areas. Petersburg area had braced for the first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

- Storm surge warnings in Florida, Georgia and SC mean "there is a danger of life-threatening inundation", the hurricane center said. Irma's current projected path would see it cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into southern Georgia on Monday afternoon before heading into eastern Alabama.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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