Irma knocks out power to 7 million homes, businesses

WHAT'S HAPPENING Irma creeps ever closer to Florida

Hurricane Irma dissipated across the southeastern United States by Tuesday morning.

The system, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning, is being blamed from five deaths so far.

Eric Silagy, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, said Irma caused the most widespread damage in the company's history. This is the longest any cyclone has maintained that intensity on record, according to Phil Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University.

President Donald Trump, who spent the weekend monitoring Hurricane Irma from Camp David with members of his cabinet, called the Category 2 storm "some big monster" on Sunday. It made the first landfall as a Category 4 storm at 9:10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Florida Keys and later hit Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.as a Category 3.

Florida Power & Light, the state's major electricity provider, says it has almost 20,000 workers deployed around the state. John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area's creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.

In one of the largest US evacuations, almost 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to seek shelter elsewhere, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

Update 1 a.m.: Hurricane Irma sustains Category 2 hurricane winds of 100 mph as its center moves 15 miles southwest of Lakeland. While the projected track showed Irma raking the state's Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire state, including the Miami metropolitan area of six million people, was in extreme peril from the monstrously wide storm.

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Around midday, Irma also spread misery into Georgia and SC as it moved inland with winds at 50 miles per hour.

The wind was already picking up in St Petersburg, some 400 miles north the Keys, and people began bracing for the onslaught. It gradually weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression on Monday. Officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.

Cranes also threatened the city's high rises, with two collapsing in Miami and another in Fort Lauderdale due to the high winds, reports the Miami Herald.

CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said the severity of the storm surge depended on which side of the storm Tampa was on. "I'm going in now for meetings but it's all about coordination", he said.

"We didn't know if we'd have an opportunity to even get gas", Naples resident Gina Fischer said.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey are in a league of their own.

That tornado's location - well away from the hurricane's core, and in the storm's front-right quadrant (relative to the hurricane's direction) - is typical for cyclone-produced tornadoes.

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