Tropical Storm Irma has unleashed some of Jacksonville’s worst floods in 100 years, inundated parts of coastal Georgia and produced heavy storm surges in Charleston, S.C.
Here's the latest:
- Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but dangers linger for communities in its path
- The storm took a parting swipe at north Florida this morning before it started battering Georgia and South Carolina
- More than 155,000 people in Florida are still in shelters; more than 6 million Floridians lack power
- Irma has devastated several Caribbean islands
- What happens when the sea rises up during a hurricane?
Hurricane Irma, after making an unexpected turn to the north-northeast, continued its march up the state Sunday night, this time heading for central Florida. The eye of the storm is about 50 miles east of Tampa Bay, and it is expected to cross over the greater Orlando area between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.
The 11 p.m. National Hurricane Center advisory has the storm heading north before turning slightly back toward the northwest once it crosses through the west Orlando area. Some models have the storm crossing the line between Lake and Orange counties, slightly west of Orlando, before its expected turn back through Marion County and the city of Ocala.
But one thing that has become clear about Irma in the last few days is that it doesn’t always do what it is expected to do.
The sudden turn spared Tampa a greater impact but put the tourist corridor in Orlando directly in the storm's crosshairs. From a practical standpoint, the more time the storm stays over land, the quicker it will weaken. And Orlando, 35 miles inland, does not face threats from storm surge.
Wind gusts are expected to be in the 80 to 100 mph range. Minimal hurricane force wind gusts of 75 mph have already been reported at Orlando International Airport earlier Sunday.
Central Florida was beset by tornados earlier in the day. Twisters damaged 18 mobile homes in Brevard County, home of the space program, without any injuries. A motorist in Orange County was killed when her car hit a guard rail.
Already 5 to 6 inches of rain have fallen, more in some areas. The storm has toppled trees and caused massive power outages throughout the area. Flash flood warnings have been issued in low-lying areas.
As the storm approaches, the risk of tornados grows less as even those severe wind funnels can’t survive in the high winds of a hurricane.
UPDATE 9:23 p.m.: The post was updated with Irma's latest location.