Irma weakens into a tropical storm but keeps causing misery

Irma cone Sept. 8 8 p.m

A high wind watch was issued for parts of the Midlands, however according to the National Weather Service in Columbia, this should be treated as a tropical storm watch.

In Florida, 5.6 million people, or 25% of the USA state's population, have been told to leave as the storm approaches.

- In South Carolina, almost 200,000 customers were without power, according to utility companies.

Deal's Sunday morning statement expanded his earlier state of emergency declaration to cover the entire state and specified that the "state government will be closed Monday and Tuesday for all employees except essential personnel".

In the Keys, where the storm roared ashore Sunday morning with winds of 130 miles per hour (209 kph), search crews planned door-to-door checks on residents. At least three storm-related deaths were reported in Georgia and one in SC. Forecasts call for Irma's center to arrive far inland in southern Georgia on Monday after it churns up the west coast of Florida.

In one Jacksonville yard, Irma snapped a tree near its roots, sending it crashing onto the vehicle of an evacuee from South Florida on Sunday. Irma was also extending tropical-storm-force winds outward up 415 miles, the National Hurricane Center says.

"We all hung out last night together", he said.

First, he and others were told they had to leave the airport and head to a shelter.

Sunday afternoon will prove crucial in determining Irma's impacts on the Florida peninsula and its possible strength once it reaches northern Florida and Georgia Monday.

Tracking models showed Irma would make landfall on the Keys and head along Florida's west coast, slamming the state that is a major tourism hub, with an economy comprising about 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency meteorologist Jim Stefcovich said strong winds could linger in the state until 2 a.m. Tuesday. Indian-Americans who own hotels have opened up their unreserved rooms and in many cases, their banquet halls have been converted into makeshift dormitories for those who left their homes in Florida to escape the wrath of the hurricane.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said: "I am confident that we are doing everything we possibly can to help British nationals, but you must understand there half a million of them affected".

Additionally, the National Weather Service received a report of 106 miles per hour sustained wind sixty feet above the ground on Dunes Row at the south end of Amelia Island...further supporting the fact that wind speeds increase as you go aloft.

"We had no electricity for a few weeks; no phone lines until Christmas and no cable TV until the following year", Triay said.

In one of the biggest evacuations ever ordered in the US, about 6.3 million people in Florida - more than one-quarter of the state's population - were warned to leave, and 540,000 were directed to clear out from the Georgia coast. "But this one scares me", Sally Carlson said as she snapped photos of the waves crashing against boats. Two law enforcement officers - Sheriff Julie Bridges and an employee of the Florida Department of Corrections - died while driving home from a shelter, according to the Hardee County Sheriff's Office. The Tampa Bay area, with a population of about three million, has not been hit by a major hurricane since 1921. Mayor Tomás Regalado said 72 percent of the city of Miami is now without power, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports. Roads were blocked, and witnesses said a provincial museum near the eye of the storm was in ruins.

"There's devastation", Scott told a press conference following an aerial tour of the archipelago, which was the first part of the United States to be struck by Irma while it was still a Category Four hurricane.

Irma comes just days after Hurricane Harvey dumped record-setting rain in Texas, causing unprecedented flooding, killing at least 60 people and leaving an estimated $180 billion in property damage in its wake.

President Donald Trump reiterated his warning that those in the path of Hurricane Irma need to get out of its way in remarks to his Cabinet at Camp David on Saturday.

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