Irma Weakens as It Heads Past Tampa, Cutting Damage Forecast

Hurricane Irma weakened as it moved past Tampa, leaving in its wake at least 4.7 million without power, millions temporarily displaced and a forecast for as much as 15 inches of rain in what may go down as one of the worst storms in Florida’s history.

The system’s center was expected to soften to a tropical storm this morning and a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon, the National Hurricane center said in an advisory. A storm surge warning was discontinued for parts of southern Florida as the storm headed north. Enki Research’s estimate for total damages dropped to $49 billion from $200 billion earlier.

With flood waters still flowing — and before Tampa’s defenses were tested — some residents in the southern part of the state were counting themselves fortunate that the most dire predictions evaporated. They emerged tentatively Sunday night, despite curfews and downed trees, to walk pets and

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