Irma knocks out power to 7 million homes, businesses

Irma knocks out power to 7 million homes, businesses

That's because Hurricane Irma's winds on Sunday pulled water into the Gulf of Mexico from local waterways.

This makes it the most sustained category 5 storm and the second most sustained major hurricane in the satellite era (starting in 1966), trailing behind Ivan in 2004.

Although Hurricane Irma is weakening, its size remains a wonder - its hurricane-force winds stretch 60 miles from the center while tropical storm-force winds reach a remarkable 400 miles, according to The Washington Post.

After the Keys, Irma crossed over warm waters and hit the U.S. mainland near the beach town of Marco Island. And there's plenty more damage to come as the storm moves up to Tampa. The storm swamped much of downtown Miami and toppled at least three constructions cranes - two over downtown Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale, the Associated Press reported.

Indian-Americans in Atlanta and Georgia pooled in their resources to help several million people from Florida affected by Irma.

A unit of NextEra Energy Inc and the state's biggest power company, FPL said its outages dipped to around 3.4 million by Monday evening from a peak of 3.6 million earlier in the day.

Weather Service meteorologists aren't sure when the water will return, but when it does, Tampa and St. Petersburg could get storm surge flooding anywhere between five to eight feet.

"This is a life-threatening situation", Governor Rick Scott told a press conference.

By noon Monday more than 500,000 customers in Georgia were without power and there were widespread reports of downed trees.

Damage estimates from Hurricane Irma's battering of Florida over the weekend look smaller than first feared.

On the forecast track, the center of Irma will continue to move over southwestern Georgia Monday night and move into Alabama on Tuesday.

However, Jacksonville is experiencing risky flooding because of a combination of heavy rains and the counterclockwise winds from Irma. The storm which happened to be a Cat 4 hurricane until yesterday has now weakened into a Cat 3 hurricane now. Schools in the state planned to close Monday.

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