Millions of homes without power as Irma smashes Florida

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Flooding, roof damage and floating appliances and furniture were reported in the low-lying Keys, but with the storm still hitting around midday, the full extent of Irma's wrath was not clear. After losing power late Sunday, he made it through the worst of the storm shaken but unhurt.

Irma remained 225 miles south of Miami Saturday morning, but the outer bands of the storm have already begun lashing the area with heavy rain and forceful wind gusts. Hurricane Irma and an unusual low tide pushed water out over 100 yards. A tropical storm warning means tropical storm winds are expected within the area within the next 36 hours. Petersburg area were braced for its first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

It was the second Category 4 hurricane of the season to hit the USA, after Hurricane Harvey hammered the Texas coast last month, flooding Houston and causing at least 50 deaths.

Roommates Zack Forrest and Krock Indigo rode out the storm on the island and likened Irma to a relentless tornado.

As Irma loomed and came ashore, gasoline stations struggled to keep up as people evacuated Florida.

Irma hit 57 years to the day since Hurricane Donna in 1960, which was the last time a Category 4 hurricane devastated the Florida Keys.

Edwards told The Associated Press on Sunday in a Facebook message it "seems the joke may have gone over many people's heads".

"There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge flooding along portions of the coasts of Florida, Georgia and SC, where a Storm Surge Warning remains in effect".

Almost all tropical cyclones that hit the United States produce at least one tornado, "provided enough of the. cyclone's circulation moves over land", the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Police in Miami-Dade County said they had made 29 arrests for looting and burglary.

As Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida, tornadoes have been spotted as the Category 3 storm bears down on the state.

Some 6.5 million people, about a third of the state's population, had been ordered to evacuate southern Florida.

An airline spokesman said the timetable depended on approval by federal aviation officials and the ability of security screeners and airport vendors to return to work.

The estimate includes wind and storm-surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties, automobiles, and some other coverages, but excludes federal flood-insurance flood losses. "The first responders and crews on the scene are adamant that the Keys cannot handle any more people until they can assist the ones who are there and in need".

In Key West, 60-year-old Carol Walterson Stroud sought refuge in a senior centre with her husband, granddaughter and dog. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave.

"We'll never get in", Jamilla Bartley lamented as she stood in the parking lot.

Rick Scott will give an update on Hurricane Irma damage in a Monday news briefing.

A hurricane warning for the Commonwealth island of Barbuda and the British territory of Anguilla has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning, while Antigua and the British Virgin Islands are on tropical storm watch.