Irma arrives in Florida
Hurricane Irma pummels Florida
Monster hurricane packs 130-mile-per-hour winds
A monster Hurricane Irma roared into Florida with 130 mph winds Sunday for what could be a sustained assault on nearly the entire Sunshine State, flooding streets, knocking out power to more than two million homes and businesses and snapping massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.
The nearly 400-mile-wide storm blew ashore in the morning in the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys and then began a slow march up the state’s west coast. Forecasters said it could hit the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area by Monday morning.
“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,’’ Gov. Rick Scott said on “Fox News Sunday’’ as some 116,000 people statewide waited it out in shelters.
Irma struck as a Category 4 but by midafternoon had weakened to a Category 3 with still-fearsome 120 mph winds and heavy rain. A storm surge of more than 10 feet of water was recorded in part of the Keys, and similar flooding was expected on the mainland.
Many streets were underwater in downtown Miami and other cities. Appliances and furniture were seen floating away in the low-lying Keys, though the full extent of Irma’s wrath there was not clear.
A Miami woman who went into labour was guided through delivery by phone when authorities couldn’t reach her in high winds and street flooding. Firefighters later took her to the hospital.
An apparent tornado spun off by Irma destroyed six mobile homes in Palm Bay, hundreds of miles away along the state’s Atlantic coast. Flooding was reported along Interstate 4, which cuts across Florida’s midsection.
In downtown Miami, two construction cranes collapsed in the high winds. No injuries were reported. City officials said it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes.
Curfews were imposed in Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and much of the rest of South Florida, and some arrests of violators were reported. Miami Beach barred outsiders from the island.
There were no immediate confirmed reports of any deaths in Florida, on top of 24 people killed during the storm’s destructive trek across the Caribbean.
While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire state — including the Miami metropolitan area of six million people — was in danger because of the sheer size of the storm.
Nearly seven million people in the Southeast were warned to evacuate, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.
About 30,000 people heeded orders to leave the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused, in part because to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.
John Huston, who stayed in his Key Largo home, watched his yard flood even before the arrival of high tide. “Small boats floating down the street next to furniture and refrigerators. Very noisy,’’ he said by text message. “Shingles are coming off.’’
Irma made landfall just after 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key, about 20 miles outside Key West, forecasters said.
By mid-afternoon, it was advancing at about 12 mph toward Florida’s southwestern corner, which includes Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics said the entire Florida peninsula will be
Palm Bay officer Dustin Terkoski walks over debris from a two-storey home at Palm Point subdivision in Brevard County, Fla., after a tornado touched down on Sunday. Monster hurricane Irma roared into Florida with 130 mph winds Sunday.