JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hurricane Irma continued to weaken Monday afternoon as the storm's center moved north into southern Georgia.
As of 2 p.m., the storm was centered about 55 miles east of Tallahassee and 50 miles south-southeast of Albany, Georgia with sustained winds of 60 mph. It weakened to a tropical storm after bringing historic river flooding to Jacksonville.
River levels soared above Hurricane Matthew and Dora levels. The storm surge flooding in downtown Jacksonville has exceeded the all-time record set in Hurricane Dora in 1964.
Irma continued its slog north, moving north-northwest at 17 mph, 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.
The threat for isolated tornadoes is over with the passing of Irma north of our area.
Here are some of the peak gusts recorded locally through 9 a.m. (remember that tropical storm force winds begin at 39 mph):Mayport Naval Station 87 MPH 0338 AM 09/11 30.40N/81.43W
Jacksonville Intl Airport 86 MPH 0341 AM 2 N Mayport 85 MPH 0341 AM 1 E Fort Caroline 80 MPH 0335 AM 1 NNE Saint Augustine Beach 78 MPH 0700 AM 1 W Arlington 75 MPH 0758 AM 1 NW Saint Augustine 75 MPH 0654 AM 1 NNE Jacksonville Beach 75 MPH 0610 AM Jacksonville Nas 72 MPH 0236 AM St Augustine Airport 71 MPH 1246 AM Craig Municipal Airport 70 MPH 0826 AM 1 NNE Orange Park 68 MPH 0536 AM Crescent Beach 67 MPH 0720 AM Palatka Airport 61 MPH 1255 AM Gainesville Regional Airport 61 MPH 0117 AM Brunswick Golden Isles Airpo 60 MPH 0515 AM Douglas Municipal Airport 59 MPH 0855 AM 3 SE Welaka 57 MPH 0421 AM Malcolm Mc Kinnon Airport 56 MPH 0148 AM Keystone Heights Airport 56 MPH 0155 AM 2 SSE Kingsland 56 MPH 0511 AM 2 W Deenwood 55 MPH 0604 AM 3 NE Yulee 54 MPH 1059 PM Lake City Municipal Airport 54 MPH 0235 AM 1 SW Ortega 54 MPH 0212 AM Palm Coast 53 MPH 0729 AM 4 SW Baxley 52 MPH 0704 AM 2 NNE Bakerstown 52 MPH 0932 PM Suwannee County Airport 49 MPH 0315 AM Baxley Municipal Airport 48 MPH 0715 AM 3 N Bunnell 48 MPH 1242 AM 5 ESE Thalmann 48 MPH 0704 AM Waycross-ware County Municip 48 MPH 0555 AM 11 NNW Steven Foster State P 48 MPH 0510 AM 1 SE Ortega 46 MPH 0203 AM 3 S Boys Estate 45 MPH 0437 AM 5 WNW Newberry 45 MPH 0315 AM Hazlehurst Airport 45 MPH 0655 AM 5 WNW Ocala Airport 45 MPH 0147 AM 3 W Bellair 45 MPH 0739 AM Cecil Field 44 MPH 1235 AM Jesup 44 MPH 0521 AM 5 SE Alachua 43 MPH 0229 AM 1 SW San Pablo 43 MPH 0246 AM 1 WNW Steven Foster State Pa 42 MPH 0801 AM 3 SSE San Marco 41 MPH 0243 2 NNW Tallyrand 41 MPH
Additionally, the National Weather Service received a report of 106 mph sustained wind 60 feet above the ground on Dunes Row at the south end of Amelia Island further supporting the fact that wind speeds increase as you go aloft. High-rise buildings around the area undoubtedly experienced similar conditions.
At 3:42 a.m., National Weather Service staff at JAX reported multiple trees down at their office, with one tree blocking the roadway out of the office, and another tree that fell on the NWS sign, damaging it.
As we explained yesterday, the strong onshore wind is creating a storm surge. A short time ago, emergency management and the public in Flagler County reported storm surge “similar to Hurricane Matthew” in “Marineland Acres.” Widespread two-to-four foot storm surges have been reported along the northeast Florida coast.
Doppler radar is estimating that five-to-eight inch rain amounts have fallen across our area, with locally higher amounts. Fortunately, the back edge of Irma’s rain shield is between Gainsville and Ocala, and steadily moving northward. While torrential rain is falling now, this should taper off later this morning. However, the wind field will remain strong, before improving later this afternoon into the night. As Irma pulls away, the persistent onshore wind will shift around to the south and southeast. While this will reduce the storm surge impact on the northeast Florida coast, the southeast Georgia coast will see storm surge conditions linger longer. One concern which continues is the potential for flooding in downtown Jacksonville as the south winds push St. Johns River water northward.
Irma is expected pass west of Jacksonville midday Monday and weather will begin to improve as the system moves away from the region.
Some people are asking if any other major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) has taken the same path that Irma is. The Weather Authority checked historical maps dating back to the mid 1800s, and there was only one major hurricane that even comes close: a storm in the 1930s that crossed the Keys and traveled parallel to the state’s west coast, but well offshore. So, in essence, no major hurricane in recorded history has taken the path that Irma is.
Hurricane Irma passed over the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm Sunday morning, and later made landfall at Marco Island Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds. The Category 4 strike on the Keys, following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall on the Texas coast as a Category 4 storm, makes this the first year in recorded history in which two Category 4 storms hit the United States.
The Storm Surge Warning has been discontinued from Anna Maria Island southward.
The Tropical Storm Warning has been discontinued from the Flagler/Volusia County line southward.
The Tropical Storm Warning has been discontinued from the Suwannee River southward.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for South Santee River southward to the Flagler/Volusia County line, north of Anna Maria Island to the Ochlockonee River and for Tampa Bay.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for north of the Suwannee River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line, North of the Flagler/Volusia County line to the South Santee River.
A flash flood watch for Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia is already in effect due to rain from a nor'easter.