MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Howling winds and horizontal rain battered parts of South Florida as Hurricane Irma inched closer to an expected landfall in the Florida Keys, causing street flooding in parts of Miami-Dade County.
Saturday night, 7News cameras captured a stop sign near Ocean Drive and First Street whipping in the wind as stinging, incessant rain from the storm’s feeder bands began to make their way into the Sunshine State.
Earlier in the day, high waves crashed against South Pointe Pier. At a nearby marina, boats came free from their moorings and washed up against a boat ramp.
Hours later, 7News cameras captured street flooding in Downtown Miami, Miami Beach and Miami Shores.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for parts of Broward and Miami-Dade. A large tornado touched down in Oakland Park and moved west, across Lauderdale lakes, Davie and Plantation, at 35 mph.
7News viewers sent in photos and videos of the massive funnel cloud as well as a waterspout that formed on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Saturday afternoon.
Hours earlier, a possible tornado knocked trees and frightened residents near 188th Terrace and 125th Avenue, in South Miami-Dade.
“It’s crazy. Like, the hurricane hasn’t even come here yet, and there’s trees falling everywhere,” said an area resident.
7News cameras captured broken wooden fences and a palm tree atop a chain-link fence.
In Cutler Bay, a 50-year-old tree was uprooted and fell on top of Arturo Vargas’ home.
“It’s an oak tree. They’re supposed to have deep roots,” said Vargas. “It was here during the last hurricane, so we imagined that it would still be here.”
Downed power lines also caused dangerous problems on Old Cutler Road. Police blocked the street to prevent anyone from coming into contact with them.
Miami-Dade Police recorded cellphone video of a downed power line that caught fire near Southwest 120th Street and 93rd Avenue.
A West Miami-Dade resident sent 7News video of a massive uprooted tree that collapsed on two cars and a van.
In Davie, a large tree came down along the 3700 block of Northwest 78th Avenue, barely missing a home and a statue of the Blessed Mary.
The winds are so strong that police and fire rescue crews are unable to respond to emergencies.
Streets remained empty along Fort Lauderdale Beach, as residents continued to follow evacuation orders.
One resident who spoke to 7News was out walking his dog because they had been indoors for a day and a half. “It’s really windy. It’s really too windy [compared to] the day before, so it’s going to be really bad tomorrow,” he said.
With Irma taking more of a Western turn, some people are surprised the storm is still capable of so much damage. “We weren’t expecting this at all,” said Vargas.
Though several tornado warnings have since expired, a tornado watch remains in effect until midnight, and a flood watch is in effect until Monday at 8 p.m.
Curfews across municipalities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties began at 7 p.m. They are expected to remain in effect as late as 8 a.m., Sunday, in some cases.
But despite the inclement weather, beach goers ventured out to experience the storm but quickly realized they should go back inside. “I’m originally from Miami, and I definitely wanted to see the beach,” said one woman. “I was here through Andrew, and when you’ve experienced Andrew, you feel like you’re a little more flexible and whatnot, but it’s definitely coming now.”
Irma is still expected to make landfall somewhere in the Lower Keys, possibly as a Category 4 system, early Sunday morning.
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