THE LATEST: Faster-Moving Hurricane Irma Weakens To Category 3; Parts of Downtown Miami Submerged [2:35PM ET]

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Hurricane Irma is moving faster with slower wind speeds and should make landfall in Naples in a few hours.

In the 2 p.m. advisory, National Hurricane forecasters said the storm is now moving north at a faster pace —12 mph rather than an earlier rate of 9 mph — and maximum sustained winds dropped to 120 mph.

Predictions show Irma moving north-northwest even faster later today, sending the eye of the hurricane ashore later this evening, near Naples. Forecasters expect the storm to slow rapidly once it is over land and wear itself out over the southeastern U.S. in the next few days.

The storm’s center was only 30 miles from Naples and on a direct path to hit it. Naples hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 1921.

In Miami-Dade, Irma’s fierce winds bent a construction crane in half, tore a roof off a gas station and left streets throughout the county littered with felled trees and palm fronds. The waters took their toll on Miami Beach and downtown Miami, leaving some areas in Brickell with waist-deep flooding.

In Hialeah, Irma knocked out power at the regional sewage pump station. City officials asked residents to limit flushing and be aware sewage could back up into their homes.

The nearly 400-mile-wide storm made landfall at Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys at 9:10 am ET, the NHC said. A 92 mph wind gust was recently reported at the Federal Aviation Administration station at Miami International Airport.

“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” Gov. Rick Scott said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Brickell Avenue, South Florida’s version of Wall Street, turned into a fast-moving river as Hurricane Irma flooded the district lined with wealth managers, banks and luxury hotels.

Water over the roadway was a few feet deep and rising, as side streets turned into tributaries. After a crane collapsed nearby, the city advised residents and building managers to stay inside and avoid any walls or windows facing the downed equipment.

(Charles Gross – YWN)