Weather

Barbuda was the first. A Category 5 Hurricane Irma swept the island with its powerful 185 mile per hour winds. One person died. The prime minister said 95 percent of the buildings were destroyed after the storm passed.

On Wednesday, Irma made history: It became one of the most powerful recorded storm in the Atlantic Ocean. It bulldozed the U.S. Virgin Islands, ripping roofs off houses in St. Barts and flooding St. Martin. By the time the hurricane left St. Martin and St. Barts, 11 people died. 

Access to the Pinellas County barrier islands had already been restricted since Friday morning to residents, business owners and employees in advance of Hurricane Irma. 

Starting Sunday at 6 a.m., no one will be allowed in - even if they live there. 

Downed power lines, standing water, damaged buildings--hurricanes continue to be dangerous well after the last rain band has moved on.    

Two days ago – when Hurricane Irma was forecast to hit Miami directly as a Category 5 storm – Miami-Dade County was staring at a potential storm surge of 10 feet. Now that Irma’s path has shifted west to Florida’s Gulf coast, the surge is expected to be half that.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is warning that’s still enough to cause not just dangerous flooding but drowning – especially since South Florida may well experience the equivalent of Category 1 or 2 hurricane winds when Irma arrives early Sunday.

Hurricane Irma's leading edges whipped palm trees and kicked up the surf as the storm spun toward Florida with 120 mph winds Saturday on a projected new track that could put Tampa — not Miami — in the crosshairs.

Tampa has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in nearly a century.

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