A monster Hurricane Irma roared into Florida with 130 miles per hour winds Sunday for what could be a sustained assault on almost the entire Sunshine State, submerging streets, knocking out power to millions and snapping massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.
On Saturday morning, Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents to evacuate at a press conference at Sarasota County's emergency operations center, less than 24 hours before Irma was set to make landfall in the state.
The governor warned that Irma "is like" Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida 25 years prior. Irma cut a devastating track across 10 Caribbean countries and territories, killing at least 28 people there.
"The center of Irma will continue to move over the western Florida peninsula through Monday morning and then into the southeastern United States late Monday and Tuesday", the National Hurricane Center said.
Wind speeds later dropped to around 70 miles per hour.
For the entire week, meteorologists said rain totals in West Virginia would not exceed one inch.
- Strong winds blowing from the northeast have pushed water out of shallow parts of bays and harbors in cities like Tampa and Port Charlotte.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the situation was not as bad as it could have been, but warned residents that risky storm surge continued.
Credit Associated Press A houses is surrounded by water as Hurricane Irma passes through Naples Fla. Sunday Sept. 10 2017
Homes destroyed: About a dozen homes were hit by trees and destroyed in Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, according to an initial assessment by county officials.
Almost 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.
"Everything is flooded", he said.
A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was canceled in communities around the state. "But I'm also very concerned about the storm surge".
The storm continues to threaten northern Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia with heavy rain and wind as well as storm surges of up to six feet. If you're in shelter or other safe location - stay there. Affected states include Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.
"A few businesses in Naples" downtown area, used sandbags against the doors in order to keep water out, while some boarded up the windows in preparation of Hurricane Irma.
It spent 8.5 days as a major hurricane and had a 3.25 day lifetime as a category 5 hurricane - the joint longest lifetime for a storm of this intensity on record.
Rush Limbaugh thinks Irma warnings are exaggerated for 'climate change agenda'
Limbaugh's show is produced in Palm Beach County , where a mandatory evacuation is in place. Well, now, two of them are hitting and they can barely contain themselves.