Hurricane Irma weakens to Category 2 as it tears through Naples on its way to Tampa

Hurricane Irma made it to Naples Sunday, bringing 160 mph gusts of wind and a dangerous 15-foot storm surge, though it had become a weaker Category 2 storm.

At the 5 p.m. update, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said the storm would likely weaken further as it starts its northern journey inland with an even lower sustained wind speed of 110 mph. Irma is headed north at 14 mph, a faster clip than before, with its next stop ahead: Tampa.

Now that Irma has moved inland and away from the warm waters that strengthen hurricanes, forecasters said the storm should lessen in intensity, but the winds will maintain hurricane strength at least until Monday morning.

The weaker storm is no less dangerous, experts said. Irma left three confirmed tornadoes in its wake, the National Weather Service said, as well as a trail of wreckage in South Florida and the Florida Keys. Two construction cranes in downtown Miami snapped in the powerful winds, and the roof of an Edgewater home was blown off.

Even before Hurricane Irma landed in Naples the National Hurricane Center — expecting more than a dozen inches of rain and a storm surge as high as 15 feet — issued a flash flood warning.

Meteorologist Tony Reynes said, “If you don’t immediately evacuate, you can lose your life.”

Storm surge continues to be a major threat. Low-lying Collier County has consistently been the focus of warnings for “life-threatening” storm surges. The five feet of storm surge in Miami Beach and downtown Miami has turned streets into rivers and made some areas impassable by car. Naples is predicted to see two to three times that amount.