Irma: ‘Monster’ storm moves across Florida

The city appeared to avoid a direct hit from the hurricane, which has claimed three lives in the US so far, but heavy rain and flooding is still a major threat.

Around three million homes and businesses in the state are without power.

The Tampa skyline is pictured across Hillsborough Bay ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma
Image:The Tampa skyline is pictured across Hillsborough Bay ahead of Irma’s arrival

Sustained winds of 130mph were reported when the storm first made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday, but by Monday had dropped to around 85mph.

Irma’s eye is moving up the coast and earlier made landfall for a second time at Marco Island before heading towards Naples, one of America’s wealthiest cities.

Meteorologist Steve Hamilton said flash flooding could become a problem as the storm moved north and heavy rains fell on mountainous area, and that the extreme conditions would continue for a few more days.

“The storm surge occurs in what we tend to call the dirty side of the storm,” he said.

“The wind literally pushes the water up against the shoreline . That is a storm surge, basically like a wall of water, like a pancake of water.”

:: Live updates: Hurricane Irma

Selfie time as the storm approaches Tampa
Image:Some people took selfies as the storm approaches Tampa

There are fears storm surges of 3-4.5m (10-15ft) could engulf houses in low-lying coastal areas and cause devastating flooding.

A tweet from the National Hurricane Centre read: “Urgent warning about the rapid rise of water on the SW FL coast with the passage of #Irma’s eye. MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!”

Areas of southeastern Florida, including Miami, have already suffered flooding.

Rainfall of two to four inches (5-10cm) an hour was reported as the storm brought down two cranes. Streets were also flooded in the city’s financial district.

:: Florida residents: ‘We pray we make it through’

preview image

Video:Storm conditions in Miami ‘really really brutal’
Crane collapse
Image:Two cranes collapsed in Miami (pictured) and one in Fort Lauderdale
The scene in downtown Miami
Image:Streets in downtown Miami resembled rivers

The storm is forecast to hit states such as Georgia and South Carolina on Monday afternoon, before later moving into Alabama – albeit in a far weaker state.

Officials urged Floridians not to drive on flooded roads, with the National Weather Service’s division in Melbourne tweeting: “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!”

A truck is turned over as Hurricane Irma passes Miami
Image:A truck is turned over as Hurricane Irma passes Miami
One man died in a truck crash as Irma approached. Pic: Monroe County Sheriff's Office
Image:One man died in a truck crash in the Florida Keys. Pic: Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Fort Lauderdale
Image:Trees take a lashing in Fort Lauderdale

Police said a man in the Florida Keys was killed in a truck crash.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said his body was discovered by first responders who were patrolling during lulls in the bad weather on Saturday afternoon.

Irma's projected path. Pic: National Weather Service
Image:Irma’s projected path. Pic: National Weather Service
A boat is washed on shore at the Watson Island marina in Miami
Image:A boat is washed on shore at the Watson Island marina in Miami

Another two people, both law enforcement officials, died in a head-on crash in Hardee County.

Meanwhile, a woman in Miami had no choice but to deliver her own baby – with medical personnel coaching her on the phone because the emergency services were unable to reach her.

:: How are hurricanes categorised?

The National Weather Service (NWS) said alerts for tornadoes were in place across southern Florida until midnight on Monday (5am UK time).

Locals were warned that “fast-moving tornadoes can develop with little warning in hurricane rain bands”.

Atlantic hurricanes have been breaking records for centuries

Video:Record-breaking Atlantic hurricanes

The NWS has urged those exposed to Irma to stay indoors, hunker down away from windows, and to use “whatever you have to try and protect yourself from flying debris”.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in Florida, which will allow emergency funds to pour into the state.

Speaking at his Camp David presidential retreat, Mr Trump said: “The bad news is this is some big monster, but I think we’re very well coordinated.

#Irma winds will push deadly storm surge into the western Florida coastline, 10-15ft deep in some locations!

— NWS (@NWS) September 10, 2017

“I hope there aren’t too many people in the path.

“You don’t want to be in that path, that’s a path you don’t want to be in and we tried to warn everybody.

“For the most part, they’ve left, but that’s a bad path to be in.”

The President said Irma would “cost a lot of money”, but added: “Right now we’re worried about lives, not cost.”

:: Florida “diehards” defy Irma

Destruction caused by Irma on the British Virgin Islands

Video:Destruction on the British Virgin Islands

Florida governor Rick Scott said: “This has been a challenging week for our state… Take this deadly storm seriously. Stay safe, be prepared, listen to local evacuation advisories.”

For those trying to flee and seek refuge inland, the changing forecast has caused concern.

“Not only did we go west, but so did Irma. She’s tracking us, that feisty minx,” said Chris Cardona, who has fled his mobile home near Miami with his wife Laurie.

Flamingos are evacuated from Busch Gardens in Tampa ahead of Hurricane Irma's arrival

Video:In the pink! Flamingos flee from Irma

A total of 6.3 million people in Florida were ordered to evacuate – about a third of the state’s population.

:: How Irma compares to Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Irma is up to to 400 miles wide, leaving the entire Florida peninsula exposed.

The storm killed at least 26 people as it swept across the Caribbean towards America.

UK territories the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were among the islands badly damaged and the military has been sent to help relief efforts after some criticised the Government for being slow to act.

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Nathan Spackman

Nathan is the Operations Manager at Bro Radio. You'll occasionally find him with our street team and hosting at local events as well as presenting our facebook live videos.