Hurricane Irma’s northern eyewall reaches Florida Keys

The northern eyewall of Hurricane Irma has reached the lower Florida Keys.

Irma was located about 15 miles southeast of Key West as of 7 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

"You're talking about a Category 4 hurricane making landfall in the Florida Keys," Local 10 News meteorologist Julie Durda said.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma will remain a powerful major hurricane as the center of the storm moves over the Florida Keys and into southwest Florida.

Under the current forecast track, Irma is expected to pack catastrophic winds and life-threatening storm surge in the Keys and Florida's Gulf coast.

The worst storm surge is expected along the west coast of Florida once the center of Irma passes north.

Florida will be severely impacted by Irma with flooding rain, storm-surge flooding and damaging winds. In some parts of the state, along and east of the hurricane's path, damage could be catastrophic.

A hurricane warning, a tornado watch and a flood warning is in effect for all of South Florida and the Keys.

Although widespread wind damage isn't anticipated in South Florida, residents in the area can expect strong coastal inundation, flooding and tornadoes.

"The new advisory states that hurricane-force winds now extend 80 miles from the center," Durda said.

National Hurricane Center forecaster Dr. Mike Brennan said the storm surge could inundate the smaller islands of the Keys.

"A very dangerous few hours coming up for anybody who's still in the Florida Keys," Brennan said.

The last Category 4 storm to directly strike the Keys was Hurricane Donna in 1960.

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This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.