Irma centered just off Key West, Florida
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Forecasters say Hurricane Irma's center is poised to blow across the Florida Keys. The northern eyewall of the storm reached the island chain early Sunday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory that the center of the storm remained offshore but was going to make landfall soon. The storm was centered about 20 miles east (30 km) of Key West, and it was moving north-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph) The storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215) kph. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office. After hitting the Florida Keys, Irma was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast later Sunday. The National Weather Service in Miami issued tornado warnings for a wide swath of Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties in South Florida. Officials say the band of rain and tornado producing cells is moving quickly. There have been no reports of tornadoes touching down.
Authorities are urging people who chose to ride out Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys to remain indoors until the storm passes.
The storm's eyewall reached the chain of islands Sunday morning. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office. In a Facebook post early Sunday, Key West Police urged people who stayed for the hurricane to remain where they took shelter until the storm had passed completely. They also urged people not to go outside when the eye of the storm is over there area, a time period when conditions can seem deceptively calm. John Huston, who is riding out the storm from his home in Key Largo in the upper Keys, says the wind gusts are strong in his area. "Water level is higher today," he said via text message Sunday morning. "Incredible wind that won't stop."