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Hurricane Irma downgraded to a tropical storm as it heads northwest

Irma has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 110 km per hour.

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Hurricane Irma downgraded to a tropical storm as it heads northwest

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Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm as it flooded several northern Florida cities with heavy rain and a high storm surge on Monday (September 11).

Early Monday morning the storm was concentrated around Fort Myers but its direction seemed to be constantly changing.

After hitting the Florida Keys it made its way slowly up the west coast but the strong winds extended to Miami on the Atlantic east side. Many places have been hit by extensive flooding after sea surges.

The authorities said three storm-related deaths had been reported in Florida by Sunday evening. Almost 3 million homes across the state lost power and officials say it could take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

Irma extends to over 600 kilometres at its widest point and it is forecast to head off in a northwesterly direction, although there may not be much relief for Floridians as Storm José is hot on its heels.

6.4 million people were warned to move out of Florida although clearly not everyone could, or wanted to follow that advice.

Of those who opted to stay around 170,000 people have been taking cover in some 650 emergency shelters according to officials.

The combined economic cost of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could reach 241 billion euros (290 billion dollars), equivalent to 1.5% of the US gross domestic product, US forecaster AccuWeather predicts.

President Donald Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that the response to Hurricane Irma has “been going really well.” Trump returned home from Camp David on Sunday after cabinet meetings and briefings on the progress of the storm. The president said he plans to visit Florida “very soon.”