Irma Weakens But Still Dangerous

A street is flooded near the ocean after Hurricane Irma passed through Naples, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017.

Hurricane Irma has weakened into a tropical storm Monday as it moves over far northern Florida or southern Georgia, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

However, forecasters are warning that swells generated by Irma along the southeastern U.S. coast could still cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”

In addition, the hurricane center say tornadoes are possible across northeastern Florida, southeasternGeorgia, and South Carolina through Monday night.

As the storm was centered about 40 kilometers northeast of Tampa, its maximum sustained winds were about 135 kph. It was moving north-northwest at about 24 kph.

The latest satellite images:

Before hitting the U.S., Irma created a path of destruction through the Caribbean, now bracing for Hurricane Jose, with its maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour.Jose is expected to gradually weaken as it travels in a near circular pattern through the middle of the week.But weather predictors say swells created by Jose could affect portions of Hispaniola, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos over the next couple of days.

3 million+ without power

Irma has devastated Florida, the third most populous U.S. state.

More than three million people in Florida were in the dark Sunday night after Irma pounded parts of the state’s Gulf Coast with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour.

The storm slammed into the Florida Keys early Sunday, when it was near its greatest strength. By evening it was closing in on Tampa and St. Petersburg, the two largest cities around Tampa Bay, where a storm surge was expected to push waves of water up to three meters deep into streets, yards and homes.

President Donald Trump declared Florida a major disaster area Sunday, a step that will release federal aid funds for storm victims more quickly.

More than 75,000 people checked into 400 emergency shelters statewide, but overall, only three storm-related deaths were reported in Florida through late Sunday.

Caribbean hit hard

At least 25 people have been killed since Irma clobbered the Caribbean late last week.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda says 95 percent of Barbuda’s buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged.

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico suffered losses in its electricity network that blacked out more than one million people. Authorities said it could take up to six months to rebuild the island’s power grid.

Puerto Rico says it collaborated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to evacuate more than 1,000 people, mainly U.S. citizens, from St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

The Pentagon deployed Navy ships and aircraft and hundreds of Marines to help with recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Air Force flew evacuation flights to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten, which also suffered severe damage.

Netherlands’ king is reported to be headed to St. Maarten to assist in recovery efforts, and French President Emmanuel Macron said he would be arriving in St. Martin aboard an Airbus plane packed with aid supplies.

France and the Netherlands share jurisdiction over the island that is home to St. Martin and St. Maarten. The smaller French island of St. Barthelemy, which is nearby, also was badly damaged. | voanews

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