Irma headed for the southwest Florida coast

Irma headed for the southwest Florida coast

It gradually weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression on Monday. Though areas of Georgia received heavy rain, the storm has weakened considerably.

Hurricane Irma was forecast to hit Tampa and other highly populated areas of the Florida west cost as a Category 3 storm.

Miami, the Florida Keys and the Everglades would be completely under water.

An aircraft carrier was to be anchored off Key West as an emergency center, and officials planned drone flights to survey the damage.

A tornado watch across parts of the Georgia and SC coast, including Savannah and Charleston, has been extended into this evening.

The storm has been pounding Cuba, and forecasters say it will get stronger once it moves away.

Florida Power and Light estimated that 3.4 million of its customers could be without power at some point during Irma, which would make it largest number of outages they have ever had to deal with in history, company spokesman Chris McGrath told CNN Saturday.

Still, the scope of damage in Florida and neighbouring states paled in comparison with the utter devastation left by Irma as a rare Category 5 hurricane in parts of the Caribbean, where the storm killed almost 40 people - at least 10 of them in Cuba - before turning its fury on Florida.

The toll extended to many other areas of the state.

Spokeswoman Becky Herrin said in a news release that Sheriff Rick Ramsey made the decision Friday night because of the changing path of Hurricane Irma.

Roofs ripped off: CNN's team in Key Largo saw some areas devastated by the storm, with roofs torn off mobile homes in one neighborhood.

The Keys were already taking punches from Irma on Saturday.

Most of Georgia will experience tropical storm-force winds as the center of Irma lifts north across the state, which is likely to experience downed trees and scattered power outages as far north as Atlanta.

As of Sunday afternoon, CNN reports Irma has been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, although winds could still reach up to 120 miles per hour.

Irma is expected to hit Florida on Sunday. Facebook groups were forming Monday to help from afar. Evacuees Of The Keys shared school closure notices, videos of destruction, and many posts from friends and relatives searching for loved ones.

According to Florida's Division of Emergency Management some 5.6 million residents have been ordered to evacuate - almost a quarter of the state population.

In Miami, which saw winds up to 99 miles per hour, resident Joe Kiener told ABC News he's endured multiple hurricanes in the Caribbean but said he had never experienced a storm as brutal as Irma. The Walt Disney Co. said its Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs will reopen Tuesday wotj regular hours.

Monroe County officials said in a statement this morning that it's not yet safe to return to the Keys. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. More than 4,200 USA flights scheduled for Monday were canceled by mid-afternoon - and more than 9,000 since Saturday - according to tracking service FlightAware. According to the tracking site, a total of 3,582 US flights were canceled on Monday, mostly as a result of the storm. American Airlines said it won't resume flights in Miami, where it has a huge base, until Tuesday.

"The wind may have stopped blowing, but for most of the Florida Keys, there is no fuel, electricity, running water, or cell service".

Related News: