Mammoth Hurricane Irma, Jose's scope breathtaking from space

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Forecasters warned that after charting up Florida's west coast, a weakened Irma could push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond.

Gusts of 70 mph are expected in Middle Georgia Monday afternoon and into the evening hours as the center circulation of the hurricane remnants moves northward.

Amid urgent warnings from state officials to evacuate before it was too late, downtown Miami was all but abandoned on Saturday. Irma first came ashore at Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 215 kmph. The storm and evacuation orders caused major disruption to transportation in the state that is a major tourist destination and that accounts for about 5 percent of US gross domestic product.

At least 26 people were arrested for burglary and looting Sunday night in Miami, and schools, airports and Orlando's DisneyWorld were on the list of closures.

In Florida, 5.6 million people, or 25% of the USA state's population, have been told to leave as the storm approaches.

Scott said: "This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen".

"So, usually the eastern side of the storm has winds opposite of the winds aloft, so that's where you have high levels of (vertical) sheer", Ward said.

The western Gulf coast is expected to be worst affected, with cities such as Tampa and St Petersburg in the path of the storm.

"We don't have a comprehensive insight into what the damage is", Bryan Koon, Florida director of Emergency Management said late Sunday. But after forecasters shifted Irma's potential impacts westward, he had trouble answering the same question Friday.

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Sir Alan said Marines from RFA Mounts Bay were used to "protect the Governor and everything else about law and order" on Friday. DFID is also working with agencies across the affected region to plan how to rebuild and reconstruct damaged areas.

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"I will tell you in no uncertain terms - and I am not going to sugarcoat it - this is going to be a hard storm", Buckhorn said at the news conference. The storm was weakening, but still potent, as it traveled northward through Georgia and SC.

The city government issued a flash-flood emergency Monday morning, ordering people to go inside and stay there.

"It's my home. I have to try to save it", Burton said.

"Well it is changing hour by hour, minute by minute", Laessig said as he prepared to leave Friday for Athens, Georgia, 234 miles (376 kilometers) northwest.

An airborne disaster relief mission is underway in the Florida Keys Monday morning, as the state wakes up to assess the damage from Hurricane Irma, which spent the weekend tearing up the Golf Coast, clocking record storm surges, and prompting one of the largest evacuations in USA history.

Jose is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches in the Leeward Islands from Guadeloupe to Anguilla, with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches. Besides vertical sheer, tornadoes thrive on an unstable atmosphere - and most instability happens at lower altitudes for a tropical cyclone than for a storm at higher latitudes, NOAA said.

CNN's Derek Van Dam, reporting from Miami Beach, said the roaring winds felt like a jet engine. It's also about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the coast.

This is the wrath of Irma, now on the move.

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