The Slatest

Irma Is Now a Tropical Storm

A man walks through Hurricane Irma floodwaters on Monday in Bonita Springs, Florida.

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Hurricane Irma is now a tropical storm moving inland according to the National Hurricane Center. From the Washington Post:

Even as Irma was expected to continue losing force as the storm headed inland—forecasters say Irma should be a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon—it maintained a remarkable reach. Hurricane-force winds extended 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds reaching more than 400 miles.

The storm spent Sunday grinding along Florida’s southern tip with devastating fury — flattening homes, flooding the Keys and causing more than 5 million power outages. But even as it diminished Monday to a Category 1 hurricane and then to a tropical storm, Irma was still far from through.

Parts of Florida are still at risk for flash floods and heavy rain as Irma, which is additionally still producing nearly hurricane force winds, moves toward the panhandle. Tampa, which feared significant damage from the storm early Monday, has fared better than expected according to the city’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The first blush is that not only did we dodge a bullet, but we survived pretty well,” he told the New York Times. A total of 5.8 million Floridians are currently without power, and local authorities are beginning to formally assess the damage across South Florida, thought to be heaviest in places including Naples, Marco Island, and the upper and middle Florida Keys. From the Miami Herald:

Monroe County emergency managers hinted that they feared there could be fatalities. Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt, calling the destruction a looming “humanitarian crisis,” said a huge airborne relief mission mounted by the Air Force and Air National Guard was already in the works.

Among the services coming to the Keys are “disaster mortuary teams,” he told a conference call on Sunday afternoon. Some damage images posted to social media were startling. On Grouper Lane in Key Largo, vehicles were almost entirely under water. The storm knocked out power Keys-wide and damaged some of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority’s transmission lines, which could cripple the flow of fresh water to the island chain. There were also reports of serious flooding and sunken boats in the Marathon area.

Five people in Florida are thought to have been killed by Irma; 27 are dead in areas of the Caribbean hit first by the storm.