Ten people were killed on the French island of Saint Barthélémy - known colloquially as St Barts - and on the French part of Saint Martin which it shares with the Netherlands. But then Irma made a westward shift and lost some of its punch while crossing Cuba's northern coast - just before a crucial turn into Florida's Gulf Coast.
About 20 cruise lines have Miami as a home port or a port of call, according to the PortMiami website, and many have had to move ships out of the area and revise schedules.
Video footage from Miami shows a frightening scene, with howling winds tearing through the city's streets and whipping the rising flood waters into a frothy river. "A few businesses in Naples" downtown area used sandbags against the doors in order to keep water out, while some boarded up the windows in preparation for the storm.
In Hialeah, Irma knocked out power at the regional sewage pump station. City officials in Tampa are conducting a damage assessment on homes across the city.
The vast majority were in Florida.
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"The threat of catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected", the National Hurricane Centre said. The storm center was trudging north at 14 miles per hour into the area between Tampa and Orlando.
The South Carolina Captive Insurance Association has postponed its conference scheduled for this week to December due to Hurricane Irma, which approached the state Monday as a tropical storm.
Yeorgo Kapriris, a resident of Summerland Key, told the Miami Herald that he witnessed "trees snapping" and "roofs getting ripped off" from the intense winds in the early morning hours of Sunday. No injuries were reported in either case. City officials said it would have taken about two weeks to move the massive equipment.
Seven deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with two in Georgia and one in SC. Miami Beach barred outsiders from the island.
This means that theoutsizedenergy output of Irma has more destructive potential that is more than three times of what Hurricane Harvey's was.
Almost 7.2 million homes and businesses are without power in multiple states as Tropical Storm Irma moves through the Southeast.
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Next, Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond.
A total of 6.3 million people in Florida were ordered to evacuate - about a third of the state's population.
President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Florida, opening the way for federal aid. For days, forecasters had warned Irma was taking dead aim at Florida. Florida's Governor Rick Scott said Sunday, "We have never had anything like this before".
That tornado's location - well away from the hurricane's core, and in the storm's front-right quadrant (relative to the hurricane's direction) - is typical for cyclone-produced tornadoes.
In Europe, shares of reinsurers Swiss Re AG and Scor SE rose more than 3 percent and insurers helped drive stock indexes in the region.
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Meteorologist Eleanor Bell, of The Weather Channel, said: "Models are continuing to struggle to resolve the track of this storm". It will likely dissipate from Tuesday evening, the National Hurricane Center said.