Hurricane Irma ‘Very Close’ To Florida Keys, Nearly 400,000 Already Without Power

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Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds early Sunday as it dumped torrential on Florida, where almost 400,000 had already lost power.  The eye of the storm was “very near” the lower Florida Keys at 6 a.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said, some 30 miles off Key West.hurricane-irma-keys

NHC senior hurricane specialist, Dr. Michael Brennan, said Irma was expected to make landfall on the Florida Keys by about 9 a.m. ET.  Irma is expected to cause life threatening storm surges of up to 15 feet along parts of southwestern Florida and storm surges on other parts of the coast, forecasters warned.

Storm surges were beginning to impact Key West just before 4 a.m. ET Sunday, with water levels already 2 feet above normal.  “Life threatening storm surge is occurring now in the Keys and is expected to begin this morning in Southwest Florida,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted early Sunday.

More than 381,000 customers were without power in Florida early Sunday, according to utility companies including Florida Power & Light.

  • Irma restrengthened to a Category 4 storm early Sunday and was about 30 miles south southeast of Key West with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.
  • The storm is predicted to reach the Florida Keys Sunday morning. “Major hurricane force winds” are expected over the Keys at daybreak.
  • It could reach Fort Myers by Sunday night, passing the Tampa Bay area before moving to northern Florida on Monday morning.
  • The Florida Keys and the southwest Florida coast are in the most danger of storm surges of around 10 feet.
  • The Keys could get between 10 and 20 inches of rain, and the Florida peninsula could get 8 to 15 inches. Tornadoes are possible.

 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Reuters
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