Hurricane Irma Slowing to Tropical Storm; Florida Cost Estimates Sharply Reduced

Hurricane Irma Slowing to Tropical Storm; Florida Cost Estimates Sharply Reduced

Hurricane Irma Slowing to Tropical Storm; Florida Cost Estimates Sharply Reduced

As anxious Florida residents watched weather forecasts this week, it seemed clear Hurricane Irma was on track to strike Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other Atlantic coast cities, prompting a massive evacuation. Few parts of the peninsula were spared the hurricane's enormous reach - though many places escaped the worst-case scenario.

Hurricane Irma, despite having weakened past its transit over Cuba, still has enough power to slam Florida's Gulf Coast with sheets of rain and surging winds.

Hurricane Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm early today as it marched up the USA state of Florida's northwestern coast, with its eye located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of the vulnerable Tampa area. The death toll in the Caribbean and Cuba is now as high as 37.

Hopefully, this storm will give us a break after Harvey and Irma.

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Florida Power & Light has projected that more than 80 percent of its 10 million customers across Florida -- 4.1 million of its 5 million customer accounts -- may experience power outages as the storm crosses the state. Officials said it could take weeks to restore electricity. Utility crews were already on the streets there clearing downed trees and utility lines.

It submerged the highway that connects the isolated Florida Keys archipelago with the mainland and flooded streets between Miami office towers.

Florida Governor Rick Scott told CNN, "My heart goes out to the people in the Keys", and he's not sure at this time how evacuations will commence. "It's awful what we saw".

Officials in Florida were getting their first look at storm damage in some areas Monday. The damage from the storm damaged not just people's homes and businesses, but also knocked out communication services to rescue crews.

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Jacksonville, Florida, is about 400 miles from where Irma first made landfall, in the northeastern corner of the state.

- In Venice, Florida, the water plant was shut down after it was damaged by the storm. This raised the overall death toll from Irma's powerful rampage through the Caribbean to 38. Wind gusts will be higher, possibly gusting over 35 or 40mph at times, especially tonight.

On Sunday, Irma claimed its first US fatality - a man found dead in a pickup truck that had crashed into a tree in high winds in the town of Marathon, in the Florida Keys, local officials said.

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