This article titled “Hurricane Irma: a million homes lose power as storm makes landfall in Florida – live” was written by Alan Yuhas (now) and Martin Pengelly (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 10th September 2017 15.03 UTC
A construction crane has collapsed on a building in downtown Miami, just visible in this video captured by a NWS employee and posted to Twitter.
There are about two dozen other cranes around the city, designed along with most of its buildings to survive the 130-150mph winds of a strong category four storm, But city officials still urged people who live near the cranes to get away from them to other shelters before the storm.
Conditions in Miami are becoming increasingly dangerous, with sustained winds growing as the storm moves north. Miami-Dade official Esteban Bovo says half the county has lost power now.
It’s worse on the Keys, even though Irma’s eye has crossed over them. Winds are still gusting around 70-90mph, according to the National Weather Service. Photos tweeted by state representative Kionne McGhee shows cars submerged and murky floodwaters rising to a building’s steps. McGhee wrote that the photos are from someone at the Marathon High School, one of the island’s “last resort” shelters.
A handful of reporters are still out in Miami, despite warnings to get inside.
As Irma bears down on the Florida Keys – waters are now three feet above normal at Key West, according to the NWS – survivors on the British Virgin Islands, the southern Bahamas and northern Cuba are only just beginning to reckon with the scale of the storm’s destruction.
Irma so far and what’s next
- Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key at 9.10am, with sustained winds of 130mph, the second category four hurricane to strike the mainland United States in two weeks. Stations on the Keys reported sustained winds of 70mph and gusts of up to 106mph, and storm surges pushed the ocean up over roads and into cities.
- Tornadoes swept across swaths of south-eastern Florida, and at 9.49am the Miami airport reported a gust of 82mph. In the city, the winds have bowelled over trees and toppled street signs, and churning waves began to splash over barriers at coastal and intracoastal areas.
- More than a million people have already lost power, and more than 70,000 are in shelters away from the coasts. About 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas all around the state, roughly a third of the state’s entire population.
- Governor Rick Scott warned that south Florida could see 18in of rain and storm surges of 15ft above ground level in south-western stretches – breathtakingly fast waves, twice as tall as a person, that could consume homes before sweeping out again. Three to five feet of storm surge, the expected level in some south-eastern counties, can float cars away and seriously injure people.
- Irma is expected to make a second landfall, this time on the mainland near Fort Myers, on Sunday evening. Meteorologists forecast a slight change in the storm’s path, saying that the city of St Petersburg is now more likely to suffer a direct hit than nearby Tampa.
- At least 25 confirmed dead around the Caribbean, including 11 on French St Martin, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dutch St Maarten, Barbuda, and Anguilla.
- The storm levelled whole towns in its path, hurtling trees and debris like missiles and crashing huge waves far above ground level. Survivors and relief workers who stepped out into towns of northern Cuba, the British Virgin Islands, Barbuda and other islands found whole homes and businesses looking bombed out, the wind and water gutting them out.
- Hurricane Jose, also a category four storm, has shifted northward, creating hope in the eastern Caribbean that survivors might be spared a second hurricane in five days.
The Miami Herald has spoken with Larry Kahn, an editor for FLKeysNews.com, who is at one of the “last resort” shelters, Marathon High School, on the central island city of Marathon.
About 50 people are at the school, which has lost power and running water, Kahn said, and the ocean is surging everywhere.
“Everything is underwater. I mean everything,” Kahn said. A sheriff’s deputy told the editor “everyone could be in this building for days,” Kahn said.
“Everyone here seems to be just walking around in a fog.”
You can read the full story here.
The National Weather Service has just reported that the storm is moving away from the lower Keys now, toward the mainland.
Florida Power & Light has announced that more than one million homes have lost power across south Florida, as the winds are picking up on the mainland.
The Miami International airport just reported a 82mph gust: the sustained winds are not yet as intense as on the Keys, but causing dangerous conditions across the state. Palm Beach County has been sending tornado warnings throughout the night, including a new one a few moments ago.
Irma makes landfall
The storm has made landfall at Cudjoe Key, toward the bottom of the archipelago and about 20 miles east of Key West, at 9.10am, according to the National Weather Service.
For hours, waters have been rushing up overland on the islands and then sweeping out again. Many roads are completely impassable, and the worst surges have yet to come in the wake of the winds.
In Miami, the winds are picking up and downing trees, street signs and power lines.
Irma’s eye reaches the Keys
The lower islands of the Florida Keys are now inside the center of the storm, the National Hurricane Center reports. The storm had sustained winds of 130mph at 9am local time.
Shortly before the hour, the National Weather Service station on Key West reported sustained winds of 71mph and gusts up to 90mph. Shortly afterward, the station reported a wind gust of 106mph on Big Pine Key.
Donald Trump has approved disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, the US territory that suffered a brush with hurricane Irma only a few days ago.
High winds there toppled trees and power lines, and tens of thousands of people lost power and access to safe water. The president’s disaster declaration makes funding available to people in Culebra, Vieques, and local government and NGO programs.
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover,” the White House statement reads.
In Miami-Dade County up through Palm Beach County, on Florida’s east coast, there are intermittent gusts of 80mph wind, as well as streaky periods of intense rain, growing more common.
On the Florida Keys, the storm is pushing the ocean over roads.
Welcome to our ongoing live coverage of Hurricane Irma, the eye of which this morning made landfall over the Florida Keys after wreaking havoc and causing more than 20 deaths in its drive across the Caribbean.
The US National Weather Service issued this warning for anyone left on the island chain:
If you are here, please go to interior room away from windows. Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to the safe room in your shelter. Take action now to protect your life. You should already be taking cover.
The US National Hurricane Center said in an early morning advisory that the storm was moving north-northwest at 8mph, which suggests a long day ahead. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power and millions have taken authorities’ strenuous advice and evacuated from the path of the storm, which is expected to hit the west of the state hardest.
The Associated Press reports:
The National Weather Service in Miami has issued tornado warnings for a wide swath of Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties in South Florida. Officials say the band of rain and tornado producing cells is moving quickly. There have been no reports of tornadoes touching down.
Our correspondents in Florida – Ed Pilkington in Naples, Richard Luscombe in Miami and Jessica Glenza in St Petersburg – are like all others still in the state hunkering down in safety, waiting for winds to ease and flooding dangers to subside.
Ed’s piece on Miami’s preparation for the storm, here, is a fascinating and worrying look at the divide between rich and poor in the city when it comes to preparing for and facing up to disaster. It now seems the city will not be hit by the worst of Irma, but as the AP report above says, it will still take a severe battering.
Here’s more of our latest Irma coverage:
- Florida facing its ‘most catastrophic’ storm ever, as Irma arrives
- Havana flooded and 5,000 tourists evacuated from coast as Irma hits Cuba
- Hurricane Irma: survivors tell of ‘utter devastation’ on Caribbean islands
- Analysis: Irma and Harvey lay the costs of climate change denial at Trump’s door
There is also another big hurricane out there, Jose. Here’s our report:
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