A hurricane's storm surge has the deadly potential to catch people off guard. No one, and we mean no one, has more data on these storms than the National Hurricane Center, which is where News19 and other reputable TV & radio stations and digital media sites get their information on the storm's path.
Several hurricane warnings and watches now are in effect for Florida and the Tampa Bay region, meaning that within the next two days, hurricane-force winds in excess of 74 miles per hour likely will be a reality.
Barbuda first felt the storm's power, as the Category 5 hurricane damaged 95 percent of buildings on the small island. Hundreds of thousands of people spent the night in emergency shelters.
Weather officials warn that Irma is expected to keep producing high winds and heavy rain, although it has weakened.
The Florida Keys are ground zero for Irma's wrath.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the situation was not as bad as it could have been, but warned residents that risky storm surge continued.
By noon Monday more than 500,000 customers in Georgia were without power and there were widespread reports of downed trees.
Irma, which killed at least 22 people in the Caribbean, was likely to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous U.S. state.
Duke's outages jumped to more than 860,000 overnight; the company said they could ultimately exceed 1 million. "No cell service in at least the lower and middle Keys", said Bill South of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Florida, on Sunday was hit by Hurricane Irma, which is said to be one of the most devastating storms to ever hit the region. Matthew did not come on shore and damage infrastructure, and it took the utility about two days to restore power. Nearly three months remain in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through to November.
Irma has toppled cranes, swallowed streets and left millions without power after wreaking a trail of death and destruction through the Caribbean.
Although the storm has long since departed the Keys, some of the islands are so devastated - mainly, Key Largo, which is blocking access to those Keys further west - that Florida authorities refuse to allow residents to reenter.