(Tampa) (AP) — Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages. The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph with additional weakening expected.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded the storm as it moved over the western Florida peninsula.
The hurricane hit southwest Florida on Sunday, downing power lines, uprooting trees and turning streets into rivers. It battered Florida’s lower half, leaving a trail of tornadoes and storm-surge flooding as its core slowly made its way inland.
The massive storm triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people before it made two landfalls in the state Sunday.
Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.