Hurricane Irma 40 miles per hour winds hitting Macon early Monday; tornadoes, flooding expected

Hurricane Irma 40 miles per hour winds hitting Macon early Monday; tornadoes, flooding expected

The first one was over the Florida Keys, which Irma hit as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds near 130 miles per hour.

"I will tell you in no uncertain terms - and I am not going to sugarcoat it - this is going to be a hard storm", Buckhorn said at the news conference.

Rescue mode: Mayor Lenny Curry said his city is in "rescue mode", with teams working to evacuate people from low-lying areas impacted by the flooding. The storm made its second Florida landfall, on Marco Island, as a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds up to 185 km/h.

Almost 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is still producing wind gusts near to hurricane force, but they believe it will be downgraded to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

For the entire week, meteorologists said rain totals in West Virginia would not exceed one inch.

The most populous counties in the state – Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – would get spared of the worst effects of Irma if these predictions hold true. "It was was like, 'Oh my God, what is going to happen?"'

FPL made a decision to shut only one of the two reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear plant on Saturday because the storm track shifted, and plans to leave both reactors at the St. Lucie plant in service because hurricane force winds are no longer expected to hit the sites.

Dark clouds are seen over Miami's skyline before the arrival of Hurricane Irma to south Florida September 10, 2017. "Let's just say a prayer we hope we make it through".

Emergency managers in the islands declared on Monday "the Keys are not open for business" and warned that there was no fuel, electricity, running water or cell service and that supplies were low and anxiety high.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to "Get out NOW".

As the storm headed for Georgia, the city of Atlanta - hundreds of kilometres from any coast, almost 1,000km north of the place where Irma first hit the mainland - was placed under its first-ever tropical storm warning. "You've got to be patient".

As Irma began moving into Georgia, a tornado spun off by the storm was reported on the coast, and firefighters inland had to rescue several people after trees fell on their homes.

Edwards told The Associated Press on Sunday in a Facebook message it "seems the joke may have gone over many people's heads".

Irma at one time was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, a Category 5 with a peak wind speed of 185 miles per hour (300 kph).

Next, Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. And there's plenty more damage to come as the storm moves up to Tampa.

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.

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