Irma Leaves Over 5.7 Million Without Power In Florida, And Sets Its Sights On Atlanta, Georgia

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Hurricane Irma brought an eventful Sunday to Florida. The “most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic” slammed into the Keys before flooding Miami (waist deep in some places), making a second landfall on Marco Island, and bringing dangerous winds to Naples. The storm then crashed into Fort Myers, St. Petersburg, and a number of other cities before moving over Tampa early Monday morning. At times, the storm fell and rose in wind speed but never ceased to lose its flooding potential from massive storm surge levels. This morning, CNN reports that at least 5.7 million households (roughly half of the total) are without power throughout the state.

The system — now downgrading from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm — currently sits north of Tampa (and is churning into Georgia), a city that anticipated a “worst-case scenario,” especially after the storm sucked water from Tampa Bay, and indeed, the flood threat still remains after Irma lashed the city with (gentler than expected) Category 2 winds. Here’s how things looked prior to midnight as 100 mph+ winds arrived downtown.

The full extent of the storm’s Floridian damage will be assessed over the coming days, and the Associated Press reports that electricity restoration could take up to a week (which is, of course, far less than the six months it will take Puerto Rico to do the same). Most of the entire Florida peninsula felt Irma’s effects with tornadoes popping up on the east side of the state while the hurricane hammered the Gulf Coast.

On Monday, Irma’s expected to continue moving north as a tropical storm with 70+ mph sustained winds. It’s already knocked out power for a few hundred thousand people in southern Georgia, and look out, Atlanta:

Irma’s staggering march up the Florida Gulf Coast brought nothing more sinister than a stiff, chilly breeze and a light drizzle to metro Atlanta early Monday … But the day was young.

“Through our early morning hours, heavy downpours will be starting, bands of rain will come through, strong winds will begin to pick up in the area, and we could have as much as 4 to 6 or more inches of rain across North Georgia,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Karen Minton said this morning.

This qualifies as the Atlanta metro area’s “first-ever tropical storm warning,” which is nothing to sniff at. Reporters won’t be struggling to remain upright in Georgia, but the state will see some serious rain.

(Via CNN, Fox News, Slate, Associated Press & Atlanta Journal-Constitution)