Monday, September 11, 2017

From south to north - widespread damage in Florida

Widespread damage along the overseas Highway 1 in Marathon Key, Florida. (Photo via Twitter @JustonStrmRider)
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical storm late Monday afternoon, the center located 85km east of Tallahassee. Irma has 60mph winds (85km/h), and is moving north, northwest at 17 mph (28km/h). Irma remains a large storm, with tropical storm force winds extending outward an incredible 415 miles (665km) from the center of circulation.

The storm has left a widespread trail of damage and destruction in its wake, from the Keys to Miami and north to Jacksonville as well as Georgia and South Carolina. Power is out to nearly 6 million residents from Florida to the Carolina's. Sixty five percent of the Florida power grid is down.

Landfall occurred on Sunday morning near Cudjoe Key, with 130mph winds. A peak gust to 141mph was reported at Naples, Florida. On Monday, the storm crept northward across the peninsula while slowly weakening. Even in a weakened state, Irma's broad circulation produced a tremendous storm surge along the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Record flooding is occurring in Jacksonville, along with winds in excess of 75mph. Homes have been damaged and in many cases destroyed. Crews are slowly moving southward across the Florida Keys, inspecting infrastructure and doing a door to door search for victims. To date, 4 fatalities have been blamed on Irma in Florida, 10 in Cuba and 20 across the rest of the Caribbean. Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents remain in shelters today, unable to return home due to damaged, blocked or flooded roads. Relief is pouring into the region, and FEMA is on the ground. Included in the relief effort, will be 175 utility employees from Ontario's Hydro 1.

A record storm surge flooded parts of Florida's east coast, including Miami-Dade, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach shown above. (The Weather Channel/AP)

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