Irma is set to make landfall shortly in the Florida Keys, bringing along with it 130 mile-per-hour sustained winds. Add to that the very real threat of major storm surge and Irma has the potential to be the worst storm to hit the Sunshine State in recent memory. Well over a dozen counties are under a tornado watch until at least noon Eastern time and hundreds of thousands of people have already lost power.
At 500 AM EDT (0900 UTC), the center of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 24.1 North, longitude 81.5 West. Irma is moving toward the northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h). A turn toward the north- northwest and an increase in forward speed are expected later today, with that motion continuing through Monday. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should move over the Lower Florida Keys in the next few hours, then move near or over the southwestern coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight. Irma should then move inland over the Florida panhandle and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon.
Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph (215 km/h) with higher gusts. Irma is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. While weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and and near the west coast of Florida.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 220 miles (350 km). The National Ocean Service station at Vaca Key Florida recently reported sustained winds of 48 mph (78 km/h) and a gust of 78 mph (126 km/h). A private anemometer at Alligator Reef Light, Florida recently reported a wind gust of 88 mph (141 km/h).
The latest minimum central pressure reported by an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is 928 mb (27.41 inches).