Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category Two storm

Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category Two storm

More than 200,000 people waited in shelters across Florida.

Ramirez planned to work from home Monday, staying with her 10-year-old son whose school, like many others, in metro Atlanta from K-12 were closed. Colleges including the University of Georgia and Georgia State have cancelled classes. One of the teams was preparing to fly into Key West, directly in the path of the storm. Irma - at one time the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic - left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean.

Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

Jacksonville - the largest city geographically in the country - is grappling with a record storm surge and will get slammed with severe flash flooding before Irma continues her destructive northward march to Georgia and beyond.

Irma had fallen to a Category 3 storm with 125 miles per hour winds, but National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen says it's already showing signs at high altitudes of regaining its previous powerhouse strength and becoming better organized. That could keep damages under $49 billion, with insured losses at about $19 billion, sparing insurance companies, Watson said.

"Stay off the roads, stay off the streets, let us complete our assessment, clear the roads of water, power lines, trees and then you can get out there and determine what happened to your individual property or your neighborhood", said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. He urged residents to store trash cans and outside furniture and equipment in their homes.

"This is going to sneak up on people", said Jamie Rhome, head of the hurricane center's storm surge unit. "Don't go out and play in it", he said.

The Weather Channel on Saturday predicted that the storm would make landfall in the Florida Keys around 8 a.m. ET Sunday, and that it would hit the more populated areas on the mainland around mid-morning or early afternoon.

More news: Irma weakens to tropical storm -NHC

While Irma's path has shifted west, Rob Gould, a vice president for FPL, which serves almost 5 million, cautioned customers on the state's east coast to remain vigilant.

"This will cover your house", Scott said of the storm surges, adding, "You will not survive all this storm surge".

"Millions of Floridians will see major hurricane impacts with deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds", Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday morning.

Jones told reporters Sunday he believes more people evacuated Savannah and nearby communities for Irma than left ahead of Matthew previous year.

11Alive StormTracker Chesley McNeil said Irma will look different in Georgia than it did in Florida.

Irma strengthened again to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour as it made landfall in Cuba overnight Friday. Charleston County opened two shelters Sunday afternoon, which now house 90 residents.

Without a spot in a shelter, the group decided their best bet was to board up their home and ride out the storm. Almost 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm's path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

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