Update: Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning, still threatening to bring storm surge and dangerous winds to Georgia and the surrounding states.
This story was originally published on September 10, 2017.
After making its way across the Florida Keys, Hurricane Irma made landfall in southwest Florida today, bringing with it pounding winds and rain that have left over 3.3 million people without power.
After changing course, Irma, which was downgraded to a Category 2 storm on Sunday evening, is making its way up the western coastline, expected to make its next landfall in the Tampa Bay area instead of Miami as first predicted. “It could make landfall anywhere along the west coast,” Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, told the Washington Post. “It’s really hard to predict where the eye will make landfall on the west coast once it leaves the Keys.”
According to The New York Times, the city of St. Petersburg has enacted a 5 p.m. curfew. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also advised citizens that their city is "ground zero" for the storm and that a 6 p.m. curfew is in effect on Sunday night. This would be the first time the Tampa Bay area has been directly hit by a major hurricane since 1921.
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida warned on Saturday night that Florida could get as much as 18 inches of rain and that cities like Naples and Tampa Bay could be completely submerged by 15 feet storm surges. The National Weather Service called Irma "a life-threatening situation" and warned Florida residents on Twitter, "If winds go calm, you're in the eye. Stay inside! Winds dramatically shift and will do so violently! STAY INSIDE!"
Already, photos and videos from newscasters and other prominent personalities in Florida are showing how powerful this slow-moving hurricane is. Refinery29 does not recommend going outdoors to capture your own footage; it is unsafe. Much of this footage was captured from indoors or by unmanned cameras placed outside.
The images from Florida show why 6.3 million people were asked to evacuate from the state and why anyone in the storm's path should listen to law enforcement and stay inside.