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Irma Batters Florida's Coastal Areas; Residents Not Allowed to Go Home Yet; Millions of People in Dark and Without Water Supply. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] DAVE BRIGSS, HOST, CNN: Breaking news, as hurricane Irma continues to show no mercy on Florida communities from coast to coast now as the power as strong winds here across the street and coastal areas now feared dangerous surge.

As Early Start live coverage from Florida begins right now. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMAN, HOST, CNN: And I'm Christine Roman. It is Monday, September, 11, 3 a.m. in the east. Victor Blackwell is co-anchoring our coverage this morning from Tampa. He will join us in a moment.

You know, Tampa often you can say millions of people are without power, but millions of people are without power right now as torrential rains and devastating winds whipped through Florida from coast to coast. The relentless pounding from hurricane Irma now a category one storm ripping down power lines leaving a trail of distraction.

Take a look at this transformer blowing in Miami. Scenes like this playing out all over Florida. Nearly four million electric customers are without power this hour. That number will go higher as the storm travels north.

BRIGGS: In Naples, water level starts rising and alarming. Nine feet in a three hour span. Think about that. Even though Irma is now a category one as we mentioned, forecasters warning everyone in her path to be prepared for potentially life-threatening storm surge, that is always the key in these hurricanes always the biggest killer.

In the city of Venice the utilities department has shut down the water plant. There appears to be a significant main break in the system, that means no drinking water or water to flush toilets.

ROMANS: The Brevard County sheriff's department reporting two tornadoes touching down in Mims and Palm Bay. Two tornadoes wobble homes destroyed but no injuries reported.

Irma's ferocious winds collapsing at least two construction cranes in Miami, one of them swinging precariously over downtown. Another dangling over the city's Edgewood neighborhood. BRIGGS: And so far, CNN has confirmed one storm-related death. The driver killing a single car accident in Orange County. First responders already executing rescues across the state of Florida.

The north Miami Beach Police Department tweeting it had to deploy an armored personnel carrier to pull a mother and her four-month old from their flooded home. They were though, safely transported to a shelter.

ROMANS: All right. The hurricane tearing through the Tampa area overnight. About 28,000 people taking refuge in 45 shelters throughout Hillsboro County, all residents now being told to stay where you are. This is right there, right there at the Tampa area.

Let's go live to Tampa bringing CNN's Victor Blackwell. Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Good morning to you, Christine and Dave. And another reason they should stay exactly where they are because here in Hillsboro County there is a curfew. No one is to be out on foot or in cars until further notice. That went into effect at 6 o'clock yesterday. The mayor here, Bob Buckhorn saying that he and the police and the sheriff's department will be very aggressive about making sure people stay off the street.

Let me tell you what's happening right now. We're in a moment of calm. We are in what is left of the eye of hurricane Irma that really brutal northern edge of the eye wall passed about two hours ago, around 1 a.m., that's now headed about 30 miles north of where we are. So you're not seeing any rain but the wind is starting to gust up again just a bit. We're on the southern end of that wall and we are expecting where the back half of the storm to come and bring more of those rains as the storm is not done with this area yet.

The other big thing that's happening right now, the storm surge. Now, the mayor, Mayor Buckhorn said the storm was coming up to western side of the peninsula, when it was still a category four storm he said that Tampa was going to be punch in the face. Well, that crossed back across the peninsula having the storm pass to the east of Tampa change that punch in the face more to a stiff slap.

Now it is too soon that this area has dodge any type of real threat because the sun is not up yet and we're not getting the full report of damages. But the storm surge, thus far, has been just a few feet here along the Hillsboro River behind me which goes out to Tampa Bay.

There has not been any major storm surge here. I'm standing on the river walk. If that would have happen at 15 feet that could have happened here it would have covered where I'm standing had been above my head and would take out a lot of property along the bay.

[03:05:02] So, we have not seen that. That's the good news for Tampa. But we know that there has been a loss of power here. The number statewide is fluctuating around four million. That will change throughout the day. There are about 500,000 of the people here who lost power when those branches were down it took out the power lines. The hope is that they did not also crush into some mobile homes those were ordered evacuated ahead of the storm.

We can also take you now to a place where the weather, the wind especially, has been unforgiving over the last several hours to the other coast of Florida. And that's Daytona Beach where our Sara Sidner has been holding on to a cement wall as the wind has been blowing there. Sara, how is the weather now?

SARA SIDNER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: (Inaudible) I guess category one. (Inaudible) Again, it's four feet tall (Inaudible). Now what I'm feeling on my feet right now are this one that had been (Inaudible) salt water. That's heading for the beach 200 yards away and five storeys down. It's incredibly powerful storm (Inaudible).

BLACKWELL: All right. Sara Sidner there on Daytona Beach. You and your crews stay safe. And everybody who is watching this especially on the east coast of Florida, remember, this is exactly why when the storm made the jog to the west, all the officials on the east coast said that the cities are not out of the woods. Because there would still be a threat from the storm.

You are seeing it this morning. This is hours, several hours after landfall here on the west coast of the peninsula. Let's good to meteorologist, Karen Maginnis at the CNN severe weather center. Karen, here along where I am when is that, weather going to be coming that rain going to be coming here and how long will Sara be seeing those winds?

KAREN MAGINNIS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: I hope for Sara's sake that the wind calms down. But I was just looking at the enhance satellite imagery and the radar imagery, and there is a huge thunderstorm mass which is making its way right over Daytona.

I was just informed that Daytona Fire Department asked people to seek higher ground because the water is rising there. This storm surge is an equal coast opportunity storm surge. We've seen it on this northeast coast of Florida off of down here further south that was overnight.

And now along this west coast of Florida from Tampa, extending northward. That's because the winds are shifting. But I want to point out a couple of things. There is this long stretch of moisture that Irma is still drawing in off the Atlantic. There is this dry air intrusion to the south. That is actually enhancing all of this.

Can you see these bands that are moving now? Orlando, Kissimmee, you are about to get hit by some very strong winds. We would estimate the winds that Sara was in between 50 and 70 miles an hour. Right around Indialantic, just about in this area, south of the Cape, the cape had a wind gust earlier today of about 80 miles an hour.

In Indialantic, there are reports that the water in at least one home was waist deep. Also in Lakeland, Florida, just about in this vicinity, in Lakeland, Florida, there is a home with reported 19 inches of water in it.

Along the Palm coast, they say that the seawall was being battered and being overtopped by the storm surge there.

[03:10:02] And in Mayport, Florida that's within the vicinity of Jacksonville, they have seen a storm surge there. This is about an hour ago of about three feet. That's because that long fetch of moisture, it's throwing all of that and creating a surge along this northeastern coast, but now we see along the back side of the system.

And I'll give you a different view. Let's go to Google Earth and I'll show you a different perspective. Here's there Florida peninsula, this is where Irma made landfall right around Marco Island around 3.30 in the morning. We know it battered the Florida Keys.

We are only just scratching the surface as to what the damage is. Well, now Irma is roughly in this vicinity, it is racing off rather rapidly into southern Georgia. It is affecting southern Georgia, coastal sections of Georgia, also into South Carolina and into the Panhandle.

So we thought the panhandle you might escape some of this. Here is clear water. There is Tampa. Just a quick, another quick look, some of the southern coasts are going to be battered first with the storm surge and the high tide.

So, Dave and Christine, eventually it's going to make its way through that bay area. We could see storm surge up to three feet. They closed that sky bridge down when the winds are about 40 miles an hour. It's close. That is a major thoroughfare for September 11th folks are just going to be just hunker down until Irma moves far enough away that we don't have to worry about the surge, the wind, all of the things that are going wrong right now around St. Pete.

ROMANS: Just a lot of misery. Karen, thank you so much for that, you know, that live shot from Sara Sidner. You know, which is watching her sort of try to literally grit it out there.


ROMANS: It reminds me of the last hurricane I covered. When the wind blows like that, what you don't see is the sand. The sand hitting your face. The sand you can't even see. The sand gets in your teeth.

BRIGGS: Your teeth.

ROMANS: It's just...


ROMANS: It's just really unbelievable. And that's all up just misery ahead for all those folks there.

BRIGGS: And a reminder, Sara is on the opposite side of the state are we're expecting the storm to be hitting right now. Opposite of the peninsula from where Victor Blackwell is there in Tampa. So there is a lot left even though you see the word downgrading, that still means winds from 74 to 95 miles per hour. So, stay put, stay inside. Coming up, one of the hardest cities hit by

Irma was Miami. Howling winds and tall cranes crashing down, flooded streets, much more. We're live in Miami, next.


ROMANS: All right. Sixteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to our breaking coverage of hurricane Irma as it tears across Florida climbing the coast packing violent winds, torrential rains and breaking records along the way.

Irma leaving a trail of destruction in south Florida. A hundred mile- an-hour wind gusts causing major water damage at Miami International Airport. The airport will be closed today. Officials hope to resume a limited flight schedule on Tuesday.

BRIGGS: Schools in Miami-Dade County closed until further notice. And this dramatic video shows just how powerful the winds were in Miami. Blowing the roof right off of this two-storey building.


BRIGGS: CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam live for us in Miami. Derek, it looks relatively calm there this morning. What do you see?

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Well, the highest recorded wind gust we had was 91 miles an hour. That was when we were in the thick of it this morning. And that what we saw was a destruction equivalent to what you would expect with a category 1 hurricane and that all also sends power lines flushing and transformers blowing their fuses, dotting the landscape with blues and greens this morning in the overnight period. That's when the storm was at its strongest.

But look behind me. We has, this is one of the examples of the many trees that have fallen on some of the power lines across the area. There's one of the transformers that blew earlier, And without electricity about three quarters of the electrical customers in Miami- Dade County without electricity right now.

But this is a concern for police because without electricity, all these homes are dark. A lot of the alarms are not working at not working at the moment so you can imagine that's a security concern. So police are heavily patrolling these streets to make sure that there is no looting.

In fact, they've already reported, they tweeted this earlier this morning 28 arrests because of looting just in Miami-Dade County alone. Check this out, too. Thanks to this tree that toppled over, we also had a water main break. So, this one of the many destructive powers of hurricane Irma as it blew through earlier this morning.

Now the crossways the bridges that connect Miami the city proper to Miami Beach is closed because there is still a mandatory curfew taking place here. And that's going to continue right through 6 a.m. in the morning. They won't open those up until they deem the bridges to be structurally sound. And so they can start turning on electricity and capping some of the gas leaks that are ongoing across the Miami-Dade Beach region.

ROMANS: All right.

VAN DAM: Listen, Dave and Christine, they really had a glancing blow here. It certainly could been a lot worse. But our hearts and our prayers go to the Florida Keys and across the West Coast of the peninsula because they really did see the brunt, the full wrath of hurricane Irma.

ROMANS: Yes. Derek Van Dam, no question. And you know, even over the weekend we still don't really have a good idea of what happened at U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands.


ROMANS: I mean, this thing really just tore through the Caribbean and Florida right now.

BRIGGS: One quote I read about the BVIS, the British Virgin Island was apocalyptic scene in the BVIS. But as for the Florida Keys though where such a nice job over the weekend painting picture of those people, that population and what happened.

[03:20:00] ROMANS: And even those salty, you know hurricane sea dogs.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: They got out of there. They were -- they knew what was good for them. For more on the conditions in North Miami Beach, let's bring in Major Richard Rand. He is the hurricane incident commander for the North Miami Beach Police Department. He joins us this morning via Skype.

Nice to see you this morning, sir. Tell us, what is the first order of business right now? What are your folks seeing as they get out there and start patrolling?

RICHARD RAND, HURRICANE INCIDENT COMMANDER, NORTH MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Sure, good morning. Our first priority is to get our boots back on the ground. We have teams of 25 officers going out and doing assessments. Damage assessments and reporting back to the EOC.

What I can tell you is we had a very busy afternoon going into tonight. We've saved a couple of lives. We're currently out there right now. We have a large amount of power lines down. We have a lot of standing water in some areas, 3 to 4 feet of water. We're warning our residents to it's not safe to come outside.

This is one of the most dangerous times is after major storm like this passes. Traffic lights are out. People want out to come out they want to get out of their houses and they want to see what's going on. We're really telling people to please stay inside. And let first responders do our job.

BRIGGS: And you are doing that with a curfew that goes through 6 o'clock a.m. Eastern Time. Major, Derek Van Dam, our meteorologist there, mentioned looting. How big of a problem has it been where you are?

RAND: I can tell you what the north and of Dade County I know the city just north of us, Ventura, had a bit of an issue. And they resolved that issue. We've been fortunate so far to not have that problem. We sent a message out very early into the storm that the north Miami-Dade Beach Police Department has one solution for looters.

Remember, we have a first class ticket to the Miami-Dade County jail. We will not put up with looting. We have patrol officers stationed in different areas around the city. And we've even activated our emergency operation system and we've activated an ember craft which is a military vehicle that we obtained years ago in foresight of something like this happening.

And we were actually out in the thick of the storm saving people's lives. We're rescuing people that were trapped. We rescued a 4-month- old child with her mother in her house as it was filling with water waist deep. Officers were able to go out in this vehicle, breach the front door, take the 4-month-old out of the mother's hands, take the mother and child to safety. Incredible stories coming from South Florida.

ROMANS: Yes, we're so thankful that you were able to pull off that rescue. That must have been terrifying for everyone. What, now so you're going out there you're doing damage assessments. And then what will be the first priority in terms of, you know, cleaning up the streets and making things safe for people?

RAND: Really isolating the areas where the power lines are down. I can tell you that's first and foremost on my list. Making sure that we clear up our emergency calls. Make sure that we get to anybody that is injured or stuck in their home.

We're actually going block by block doing grid searches. I have officers checking houses, I have officers checking alley ways. I have a security team out there checking all of our businesses. Once daylight comes up, we'll get a really good idea of what the damage really is. But we should have a really good handle on before then.

We also have public works coming out first thing in the morning to get our streets cleaned up. We're just, we're really trying to hold it together and do the right thing and keep our community safe.

BRIGGS: Do you a good sense of just how widespread the power outages are there?

RAND: I know the last I heard there was approximately, I believe a half a million people without power. I don't know what the numbers are right now. But I know Florida Power and Light as well as other companies are out there trying to restore power.

ROMANS: And just finally, for anybody just tuning in, remind our viewers how dangerous this time is once the storm has passed, for where you are in particular. This is when fatalities happen.

RAND: Absolutely. This that fatalities don't happen, while they do happen during the storm but after the storm is when we see the most injuries and the most fatalities.

I was here for hurricane Andrew and I can tell you that people are locked up in their houses or, you know, in shelters and they want to get outside. They want to see what's going on. And it's just not safe it go outside. You could step in a puddle or step in, you know, a very light patch of water and it could be completely electrified with a live power line and it will kill you immediately.

It's just not safe. Let our officers go out there with fire rescue with Florida Power and Light. We have a lot of support from Tallahassee, from the governor's office, from our city manager, to get these areas safe. That's our number one priority. And people need to listen us to. We won't steer you wrong.

[03:25:00] ROMANS: Major Richard Rand. Thank you so much, sir. The hurricane incident commander for the North Miami-Dade Police Department.

BRIGGS: Thank you to all of the first responders there in the state of Florida.

All right. No matter where you are in Florida, dangerous winds whipping up from coast to coast. Millions now in the dark. We're live across Florida with more coverage of hurricane Irma, next.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back to CNN's continuing live coverage of hurricane Irma. I'm Victor Blackwell in Tampa.

[03:29:56] We are literally right now here in Tampa along the Hillsboro River in the eye of the storm. At least what's left of Irma's eye. No rain at moment. But we know that the back half of this storm is coming and bring a lot of wind and rain with it. And the rest of Tampa should know that as well.

Let's go now to CNN's Stephanie Elam who is also in Tampa. And Stephanie, before this calm period started, the wind was rough, the rain was heavy and we know it's going to start again.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. No doubt about it, Victor. When we first got out here I was soaking wet and then as we got into this sort of eye part of the storm my jacket is drying out. It's like I'm in a blow-dryer which is kind of nice because it has been kind of cold. Being out here just completely wet.

But here is the other thing. We've never lost power in downtown Tampa. I've been out here all night and power has been here the entire time. The fear was that it might be out not just for a couple of days but for weeks depending on how severe it was. That's not the case. We haven't even see it flicker.

I did see early on in the night a couple of transformers blow. But over all, that hasn't been an issue here with the power. Now that the wind are starting to pick up I've been watching these little puddles and it's starting to pick up enough that's blowing bubbles off of them.

So you're starting to feel a change here in the weather where it's starting to feel like OK maybe there's next wave that's starting to come towards us. The wind kicking up, it has been very calm out here for a few minutes.

We also know that here in the city of Tampa they were not responding to emergency calls. But it looks like they are making some concessions that things have been called. I just saw a city of Tampa ambulance just drive down the street. Other than that the streets have been cleared. People have been staying off. I saw a few people out but now people have been staying off the streets here in Tampa which is what they wanted.

The mayor saying that there is a curfew enacted at 6 p.m. last night to keep people off the street. They're saying it still not the safe conditions to be out here.

I just went to check on the Hillsboro River just because I wanted to see from what I saw earlier today, I took a -- well, I should say today, it's today to me because I haven't gone to sleep. But for everybody else it's yesterday.

But I took a walk along the river and you could see how far that water was being pulled out. It was quite phenomenal but also quite dangerous because people you don't want to be down there when the water comes back. But I can tell from where I saw earlier that the water is starting to come back into the river here.

So, all in all, compared to what we thought we would be experiencing in the middle of the night, it's a much different situation. I couldn't even stand out here before without my hood on, obviously I can do that now. But compared to what you see Sara Sidner was dealing with or even Ryan what he was dealing within clean water, Tampa which really has had not a huge hit in about 90 some years really glimpse this one.

And it's a good thing for the city that's pretty much where I am in downtown Tampa surrounded by water on three sides, so a good development here. As we watch how this next part of the storm comes through here, but much better than we expected, Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Thanks so much. Yes, those shots of a dried out Tampa Bay...

ROMANS: Crazy.

BRIGGS: ... just unusual. Dogs out there playing. Very strange site. But still some winds and rain to come in Tampa. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Stephanie Elam, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Early Start continues right now with the latest path for hurricane Irma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news. ROMANS: After one of the most ferocious storms in history, millions

in Florida waking up with no power this morning after one of the most ferocious hurricanes in years. Irma still churning north but the threat of storm surge lurks in the south where the storm left plenty of devastation behind.

Welcome back to Early Start. Right and early this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is September 11th. The day we would ordinarily talk a lot about that anniversary all our lives though. Of course, on the state of Florida Victor Blackwell co-anchoring our coverage this morning from Tampa who joined us again in just a moment.

But at this hour, hurricane Irma, pounding Florida with relentless fury. Torrential rains, devastating winds whipping from coast to coast. The nonstop hammering from this now category 1 ripping down power lines. Leaving a trail of destruction behind.

So take a look at this transformer blowing in Miami, it seems like out playing all over the state. Nearly four million electric customers without power as we speak. And that number likely to go higher as the storm continues to move north.

ROMANS: In Naples, water levels are rising at an alarming rate. Nine feet in a three hour span. Even though Irma is now a category 1 forecasters warning everyone in her path to be prepared for life- threatening storm surges. Potentially life-threatening storm surges.

[03:35:01] A hurricane, category 1 hurricane is a very dangerous beast. In the city of Venice the utilities department has shut down the water plant. There appears to be a significant main break in the system. That means no drinking water or water to flush toilets.

BRIGGS: The Brevard County sheriff's department reporting two tornadoes touching down. In Mims in Palm Bay, mobile homes just destroyed. No injuries yet reported. Irma's ferocious winds collapsing at least two construction cranes in Miami. There are more than two dozen in that area that thankfully did remain upright. One of them swinging here precariously over downtown. Another dangling over the city's Edgewood neighborhood.

ROMANS: So far CNN has confirmed one storm-related death. A driver killed in a single car accident in Orange County. First responders already executing rescues across Florida. The North Miami Beach Police Department tweeting it had to deploy armored personnel carrier to pull a mother and her 4-month-old baby from their flooded home. They were safely transported to a shelter.

BRIGGS: Hurricane tearing through the Tampa area overnight. About 28,000 people taking refuge overnight in 45 shelters throughout Hillsboro County. All residents being told to stay where you are.

Let's get live to Victor Blackwell. It looks like it's very calm there before you. Is it moved on or you're still expecting more elements? BLACKWELL: Well, the front half of the storm has moved on. We're in

that literal eye of the storm. The back half is coming. So, for people who are in this area who are in this eye was left us from our side do not some out, do not take this as a signal that the storm has passed totally and it's over because it has not.

There is a storm surge that is here that's a few feet above what we would expect at this time of the day, a high tide is coming. It's not as bad as many expected it would have been if Irma had passed to the west over the gulf here. Or rather than passing to the east.

But we know that many of the 28,000 people who are in those shelters across Hillsboro County are there because of mandatory evacuations. So those were put into effect before of course the storm came. Especially for mobile homes and low-lying areas. We know that power is out for about half million people across this part of the state.

And those huge tree branches fell. The fear was that instead of just hitting power lines, which would be for most people just a temporary inconvenience after loss of power, it could mean a also of life when they fall on to those mobile homes and when the rough winds that are coming again with the back half of the storm could move those mobile homes will actually remove them from their foundations.

Again, we are here alongside of the Hillsboro River which goes out to the Tampa Bay and then which goes into the Gulf of Mexico. We're not seeing what you typically see with the storm surge a rush of water on to a coast because again we're standing on the river. We're seeing a swell of the water. We're seeing a swell of the river and it happened pretty quickly.

Again, we're a little out from high tide so we'll see how much that adds to the height of the water. We're standing on a river walk. Still about maybe 10 to 12 feet from the surface of the water to where I'm standing. And we'll see if how -- if how close that water rises to where I am.

Let's go in now to meteorologist Karen Maginnis who is in the CNN severe weather center. Karen, give us an idea of where the storm is now and where it's headed.

MAGINNIS: Yes. And Victor, you are getting kind of a front row seat as to storm surge. Where you see that rise in the water because we're on the back side of the storm. So the winds are coming in out of the northwest, eventually they'll come from the west. So it's really going to be enhanced here over the next several hours because there is a high tide starting at about 4:00.

And with high tide you ordinarily get 2 to 3 feet but then you get an additional 1 to 3 feet and a lot of those low-lying areas are really going to be inundated. But it isn't just the storm surge on the western edge of Florida. Because we have seen phenomenal reports coming out of this northwestern and central coast of Florida.

In particular, in Daytona, there are such heavy rainfall there right now that they are saying there's a real emergency. Because they had a huge cluster of storms just really inundate a good coastal area, it all the way from Daytona and now heading towards Jacksonville. Jacksonville you're right in the thick of things.

I want t point out, look at this long stretch of moisture. This is one of the outer bands from Irma. And there's a secondary one that is moving through. There's also this cluster, just moving into the vicinity of Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida.

We have seen tremendous reports right around Jacksonville interstate 9 -- 295 and the St. John's River. Fort Pulaski that's in the vicinity of Tybee Island. Many people know that area very well, they are saying the storm surge there is about nine feet now.

[03:40:02] So this east coast of Florida has been battered. The Miami airport is closed. This September 11th, because I said there is water damage. We don't know if that's to the runway, to the taxi ways, to the buildings, to the facilities what that essentially entails.

There are four million people. Probably more than that across the Florida peninsula that are without power. Now I want to show you this Google Earth. Getting back to Tampa St. Pete, for this region when the winds gust to about 40 miles an hour or above, they shut down the sky bridge. Here is the sky bridge.

And this is a crucial artery for people trying to get down that west coast of Florida. This is the back edge of this bay, which will continue to rise especially if those winds start to moves in more from the west. And they will be gusty. We'll see them in some instances maybe 60, 70 miles an hour right around Pinellas Park. Beautiful area there. Clear water in the past hours or so, we have seen them gust to near 75 miles an hour.

I want to show you just kind of the overall view. We had anticipated that Irma would move generally speaking around i-75. But it looked to me in the last few images that it's taking a little bit more of a jog to the west and northwest. We'll continue to keep an eye out on that for you. So much to cover from stem to stern in Florida. But keep it here on CNN. We got you covered. Dave and Christine?

BRIGGS: Karen, if it took more of a west coast turn there, could it pick up some more warm water or is that not a possibility?

MAGINNIS: I think there is so much dry air in the system right now, meaning along the southern edge of it. Let me see if I can fast forward through some of this. Some of these rain totals that we're seeing, especially at pier Daytona and Orlando, have been 6 to 10 inches of rainfall.


MAGINNIS: So you can imagine there are downed trees, downed power lines in that sort of thing. What I think is the eye looks pretty rugged from what we can see. And you can kind of see this is where the clearing is. It's not a clearly defined eye. It's not, it definitely look like something that's going to spin up. We've got this outer band on this eastern edge. This western edge is

eroded somewhat. Certainly the southern edge has this dryer air. So I think it's highly unlikely but then again Irma has definitely been full of surprises.

ROMANS: You know it strikes me, Karen as how the entire state has been gobbled up by that image there. You know, the eye right over Tampa but boy, another half of that storm is going to start hitting some of those big towns up there.

All right, thank you so much, Karen Maginnis. The dangerous winds whipping up from coast to coast. Millions of people now in the dark. We go live to Florida with more coverage of hurricane Irma.


MAGINNIS: Well, hi, everyone. I'm CNN Karen Maginnis. This is your weather watch.

Irma has made landfall across the Florida peninsula at a category 3 hurricane. Now we watch it winding its way up towards the western sections of Florida and inundate portions of the southeastern U.S. with very heavy rainfall and a potential for severe weather. Not just flooding rains but we might see isolated tornadoes as well.

And localize flooding extending all the way from Georgia, Florida, and into the Tennessee River Valley over the next 48 to 72 hours.

How much rainfall? Well, it will vary certainly but between 100 possibly 200, maybe more millimeters of rainfall expected here. And then there is Jose which really hasn't got a lot of attention because it's been over the open waters of the Atlantic. But it looks as we go into the several days it will make a loop, moving into track a little bit further towards the south. So the Bahamas perhaps we need to keep an eye out on the forecast there as Jose continues to trek towards the west beyond that 72-hour time period.

How about the forecast, well, we look at Los Angeles, sunshine 27, Atlanta much cooler than normal, about 18 for a 18, and for Mexico City, 22 under partly cloudy skies expected there. And if you're traveling to Lima with a high of 17.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back to CNN's continuing live coverage of hurricane Irma. I'm Victor Blackwell in west coast of Florida in downtown Tampa. Where what's left of the eye is offering a brief respite but that is not the case for the east coast of Florida. Especially Daytona beach. And that's where we find CNN's Sara Sidner who has been struggling there for hours now. What's it like there now, Sara?

SIDNER: You know, if anyone who thought that this storm would blow over Irma calming down, yes, she has lowered her intensity. But not here on Daytona Beach. On Daytona Beach this is the strongest wind that we have seen. And they just keep getting stronger each hour. We are in another one of those incredibly powerful bands and what we

have seen incredible pictures by CNN, photographers and reporters and anchors across the west coast and down to Miami, we are now getting some of those powerful winds here.

Now we do realize that this has gotten down to cat 4 and starting to fall apart -- or sorry, a cat 1. It is falling apart. We are talking about wind gusts of up to 80 miles an hour. I do want to keep you honest here.

Down on the ground, it's going to be less, there is going to be less wind. We are five stories up because we were told that we had to come back inside. And so we did, so we're getting stronger gusts here but we are right around the time when this is going to get its absolute worst.

Our forecasters there in the CNN center, it's been around 4 o'clock, this is going to be the most difficult time and that will be sustained for half an hour to 45 minutes. And so we are getting some of that right now.

I do want to mention something to you. We keep seeing lights going out and at one point it looked like the city went dark but then it was back on-line. We are in the same hotel with hundreds of Florida Power and Light workers and Florida Power and Light is going to be leaving. Their folks are leaving tomorrow morning.

Once the storm passes through, they are ready to go to try and restore power especially going to Miami. We are told by a couple of guys here that they are going to be leaving as soon as they can, as there is daylight and less wind. They'll be heading down to Miami to try and turn that power back on for everyone. Christine, Victor?

ROMANS: Wow. That is some live shot. Thank you.

BRIGGS: Sara Sidner...


ROMANS: Well done.

BRIGGS: Gutsy that is journalism there.

ROMANS: Well done.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Sara. And that's a reminder to folks, I think perhaps as far as up north to Jacksonville, there's a lot still to come on the opposite side of where you thought this storm was. A lot of punch left.

[03:50:07] So, back in Miami, this storm pack quite a punched as well. One hundred mile an hour gust there causing major water damage of Miami International Airport. That airport will be close today as you might imagine. Officials hope to resume a limited flight schedule on Tuesday.

Schools in Miami-Dade County also closed until further notice.

ROMANS: Yes, some of those schools are actually shelters at the moment.


ROMANS: They have been taking care of people. This dramatic video show just how powerful the winds were in Miami. You can see those winds blew the roof right off this two-storey building.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam live in Miami for us. Derek, we were just talking to someone from the North Miami Beach Police Department. And you know, they say that the most dangerous part of the storm for Miami is now. When people start venturing out there is so much danger lurking around where you are.

VAN DAM: Yes. They are curious. They want to know, how is their property? How did their house fair? How did their trees fair? Well, not the good, this is not the good time to go out and do that. Because obviously downed power lines. We've got water, water problems. Trees blocking roadways. It's still dangerous here.

This in fact, still a mandatory evacuation, a mandatory curfew, I should say in the Miami Beach region. This area have seen damage equivalent to what we would expect to see with a category 1 hurricane. Winds in excess of 74 miles per hour that's what we saw.

Look at this tree that toppled over in the destructive winds. Of course the ground is extremely saturated for two reasons. It recedes about 10 inches of rain here but also with water main break, that occurred with this particular tree. It loosened up the soil. And even ripped the six-inch piece of concrete right from the ground. Unbelievable.

I want to show you a couple of other things too. Police have been quite concerned about looting in the Miami-Dade area. And that is because there's no electricity here. In fact, about three quarters of the electrical customers within this particular county are without power as we speak. And here is the reason why. It's because trees just like this are falling on power lines. Taking them down. Sending blue shocks into the sky illuminating the horizon as transformers continue to blow.

Now the roadways and the bridges that connect Miami Beach to the city center of Miami are still closed. They are doing that because they want to make sure they are structurally sound before they reopen them. But they're also trying to prevent people from coming back and examining their properties like this.

That's all that we have from Miami Beach. I'm meteorologist Derek Van Dam. We're going to send it to Victor in Tampa Bay. Victor, what are you seeing this is.

BLACKWELL: All right. Derek, right now we're seeing just a break. But what we've seen over the last 24 to 48 hours is so and just the bullying winds and rain that comes down in sheets. The real strength of hurricane Irma.

We'll talk with a storm chaser next about why he stays behind during these storms.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell here in downtown Tampa along the Hillsboro River. And over the last 28 -- 24 to 48, 72 hours considering what we saw in the Caribbean over the weekend within, CNN has brought you pictures of the rough winds and sheets of rain and really the strength of this hurricane that is still now heading toward a north Florida.

We have with us a storm chaser, Aaron Jayjack, who has been out in this storm and has seen the real damage and the threat that it has posed. Aaron, thanks for being with us this morning. You're in Fort Myers and we've talked a lot about the threat that the storm posed as it approached the Keys and the peninsula. What stands out to you about what you have seen about or seen from hurricane Irma?

AARON JAYJACK, STORM CHASER: Yes. So hurricane Irma has been quite a wind-producer today. I've been here in Fort Myers for about the last 12 hours. I'm hunkered down in a parking garage.

One of the things that's quite impressive with the storm is that the hurricane force winds were, you know, the width of Florida up and all the way down the peninsula. So it's affecting quite a large area. And still the wind is still blowing right now pretty good. It's actually a tropical storm force winds.

BLACKWELL: Now one of the questions I asked before we took a break is why storm chasers like you stay behind during these storms. Tell us what motivates you to do what you do.

JAYJACK: Yes. So I didn't even stay behind. I came all the way from Austin, Texas. Just chasing Harvey a couple weeks ago. For me, it's all about the passion. You know, you got have some passion in life. And I love following the storms and witnessing the history that unfolds from these storms and measuring the pressure and the wind speeds here and just over all just being a document, taking the documentation of the storm.

Document it for the world and, you know, potentially for people in the future that would like to see what the storm actually did.