But the hurricane was expected to strengthen again before hitting the Sunshine State.
Regardless of what Irma does or where it hits, the storm is a reminder of what hurricanes have done to the state's ecosystem.
Rob Miller, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc.in State College, Pennsylvania, said a track "near or just to the west is nearly, if not, a worst-case scenario for Tampa Bay", said "It shoves all the water into Tampa Bay and then shoves it right into downtown".
People seek shelter from Irma with their pets at the West Boynton Park and Recreation Center in preparation for Hurricane Irma in Boynton, Beach, Florida, September 9, 2017.
Stress and anxiety are creeping in as the first bands of rain arrive.
Hurricane Andrew razed Miami's suburbs in 1992 with winds topping 165 miles per hour (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes.
The Netherlands' navy said in a tweet on Sunday the situation after Jose passed north of the islands overnight is "better than expected".
It will then continue up the coast making a second landfall between Fort Myers and Sarasota later in the day, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"The entire area of South Florida is covered in rain", Local 10 News chief certified meteorologist Betty Davis said.
Government news website Cubadebate said evacuations across the island totalled over 1 million people.
"We live in a hurricane-prone area so our facilities are created to accommodate these storms", said Brian Dowling, the general curator at Lion Country Safari in Palm Beach County - a facility with lions, chimpanzees, rhinos and more, all of whom stayed put for the storm.
"I'm really glad now that we're going to go inside, get off the roads". "We're in constant communications with all the governors, with the state and local officials".
Irma at one time was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, a Category 5 with a peak wind speed of 185 miles per hour (300 kph), and its approach set off alarm in Florida. The country was struck by a powerful natural disaster on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital and triggering a tsunami warning.
A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was cancelled in communities around the state. "But it's a 1 in 20 chance right now". Forecasters say it could still increase in strength, but their forecast didn't show it. In a parting blow to the state before pushing on to Georgia and beyond, the storm caused record flooding in and around Jacksonville, causing untold damage and prompting dozens of rescues. The peak winds of Hurricane Katia, centered over the southwest Gulf of Mexico, had reached 100 m/h (161 km/h).
Irma already this week left a trail of flooded streets, toppled buildings, uprooted trees, upside-down boats and cars, and residents and visitors scrambling to secure shelter, food and clean water. As mentioned in the previous update, winds ahead of Irma from the east and northeast will promote coastal flooding, while the inevitable wind shift to the south on Monday will drive St. Johns River waters northward, creating a significant flooding hazard for downtown Jacksonville.
FPL has spent $3 billion since its system was slammed by seven hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.
Five thoughts from a convincing Red Sox victory
Christian Vazquez, who came in with highest home batting average in the American League at.373, had two RBI hits in the onslaught. Betts added a two-run homer off Manaea in the fourth inning, then another two-run homer off reliever Raul Alcantara in the sixth.