Irma weakens to tropical storm -NHC

People walk on Sunday where normally there is four feet of water in Old Tampa Bay. Hurricane Irma and an unusual low tide pushed water out but it was expected to surge back when the storm gets closer

Editor's note: This is a developing story that is being constantly updated as the storm progresses.

"We're asking folks to be patient and remain sheltered in place", said St. Augustine Fire Chief Carlos Aviles.

With sustained winds of 75 mph and its center 60 miles north of Tampa, Irma is moving across the northern half of Florida's peninsula.

The southwest coast of Florida is under a threat for catastrophic storm surge, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected.

How many people in the dangerously exposed, low-lying islands defied evacuation orders and stayed behind was unclear.

First Irma slammed into the Florida Keys Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane, ripping roofs off of mobile homes and littering roads with debris. It was smacking Naples after coming ashore in Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.

Many residents and tourists were left reeling after the storm ravaged some of the world's most exclusive tropical playgrounds, known for their turquoise waters and lush green vegetation.

As for the family who almost escaped two hurricanes, they said they are glad to see first responders heading into Florida as they left.

"It is too early to tell if Jose will have any direct impact on Florida, but it is expected to turn to the north in three or four days", the state Division of Emergency Management posted on its website Monday. More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in SC.

"If Jose comes through that's a different story", Witt said.

Buckhorn said areas along the Tampa Bay shoreline could expect a risky storm surge anywhere from three to eight feet, adding that it would depend on where Irma went.

- Two tornadoes touched down in Brevard County, Florida, destroying mobile homes in their path, officials said. No injuries have been reported.

- Authorities sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to help with search-and-rescue operations in Florida on Monday as a flyover of the hurricane-battered Keys yielded what the governor said were scenes of devastation.

"We have no electricity, at least in this pat of Key West, we have no water, we have no internet service", Dave Gonzales, the museum's curator, said on MSNBC Sunday night.

- In Venice, Florida, the water plant was shut down after it was damaged by the storm.

A vehicle is seen in a flooded street in Miami, Florida. Meantime Sanibel police were restricting traffic across the causeway.

- Disney World was forced to close, for only the sixth time in its 45-year history.

Irma already flooded the streets of Miami on Sunday, even though the city sits on Florida's southeast coast - away from the main force of the storm.

But for those who live near the ocean, it's not the wind or rains that scare them, it's the storm surge.

In South Carolina, the Charleston Harbour area saw major flooding on Monday, with water about 1m above flood stage, the National Weather Service said. Several school districts closed and 25 were on a 2-hour delay, Cooper said.

The Tampa Bay area feared a direct hit from a major hurricane, but ended up getting more of a sideways swipe from a weakened Irma. Hurtling along at 130 miles per hour winds, Irma struck Florida Keys as it barrelled towards the U.S. state's west coast where millions of people have evacuated turning many places into ghost towns.



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