Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm over Florida, but it still had winds near hurricane force. Its outer bands were also blowing into Georgia, where the storm's center was expected to arrive later in the day. Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. More than 100,000 were in the dark in Georgia.
Irma's center was about 105 miles north of Tampa when forecasters announced it had weakened to a tropical storm. However, they warned its maximum sustained winds were 70 mph, and the storm was still producing higher gusts. In one of the largest U.S. evacuations, nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to seek shelter, including 6.4 million in Florida alone. Next, Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, where many schools canceled classes. Here in Montgomery schools are closed as well as city offices and city bus service has been suspended for the day. Winds could range from 30 to 40 miles per hour in the Montgomery area with peaks near 50 mph. Rainfall could total anywhere from 3 to 5 inches according to the National Weather Service.