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Hurricane Irma's northern eyewall reaches the lower Florida Keys

Hurricane Irma's northern eyewall reaches the lower Florida Keys
Posted at 7:14 AM, Sep 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-10 09:08:00-04

8:40 a.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Florida authorities have issued another stern warning about Hurricane Irma: Shooting bullets into the storm won't help keep you safe. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office issued the message on Twitter late Saturday. The sheriff's office, which is in the Tampa Bay-area, was responding to a Facebook event page created two Florida men inviting people to shoot at Irma.

CAIBARIEN, Cuba - Hurricane Irma has ripped roofs off houses, collapsed buildings and flooded hundreds of miles of coastline while raking Cuba's coast cutting a trail of destruction that has left 22 people dead so far across the Caribbean. As Irma leaves Cuba and directs its 130 mph (215 kph) winds toward Florida, Cuban authorities are warning of staggering damage to keys along the northern coast studded with all-inclusive resorts.

MIAMI - The storm surge is called dangerous and life-threatening, but what exactly is it? Simply put, hurricane winds push water toward shore. It can happen quickly and far from a storm's center, inundating areas that don't typically flood. Storm surge doesn't just come from the ocean. It can come from sounds, bays and lakes, sometimes well inland.

7:05 a.m.

Hurricane Irma's eyewall has reached the Florida Keys.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm's northern eyewall reached the lower Florida Keys Sunday morning. The eyewall is a band of clouds surrounding the center of the storm that has intense winds and strong rain.

The hurricane center says Key West International Airport has measured sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph).

7:00 a.m.

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in Florida as Hurricane Irma's winds and rain lash the state.

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Irma's center was over water off Key West early Sunday, but places including Miami were being hit with strong winds and rain.

Florida Power & Light Company said that about 430,000 customers were without power Sunday morning. Miami-Dade County had the most outages with about 250,000. Broward County had 130,000 outages. Palm Beach County had more than 40,000 outages.

The utility said that it has mobilized crews and is working to restore power as it can.

6:30 a.m.

With Hurricane Irma closing in on Florida, the storm's winds are already lashing parts of the state.

In Key West, Carol Walterson Stroud and her family are huddled in a third floor apartment at a senior center.

Stroud said early Sunday that the wind was blowing hard, but her family was OK. In a text message to a reporter, she said: "We are good so far."

As of 6 a.m. EDT, forecasters say the Category 4 storm is centered about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the island.

The 60-year-old is with her husband and granddaughter and their dog. Stroud says she plans to step outside once the "eye" of the hurricane passes over later Sunday.

Meanwhile, to the north, access to all of Pinellas County's barrier islands, including the popular spring break destination of Clearwater Beach, has been shut off.

6:10 a.m.

The eye of Hurricane Irma is very close to the lower Florida Keys.

As of 6 a.m. EDT, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm is centered about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and is moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

Irma's maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph (215 kph). The hurricane center says weakening is forecast but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and near Florida's west coast.

6:10 a.m.

France and the Netherlands say their islands in the Caribbean were spared major damage from Hurricane Jose, which passed farther away from the islands than expected.

The Sunday announcements - coming from France's national weather service and the Dutch navy - were good news for islands that had already been devastated by Hurricane Irma last week.

Meteo-France said Jose's center passed overnight about 75 miles (125 kilometers) from St. Martin and 80 miles (135 kilometers) from St. Barts, though it still produced gales of up to 48 mph (80 kph) around the islands.

In a tweet Sunday, the Netherlands' navy says the situation after Jose passed north of the islands overnight is "better than expected." Scores of marines and troops will resume their efforts to restore vital infrastructure and distribute food and water on St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.

In a separate tweet, the navy said the security situation on St. Maarten, which saw widespread looting and robberies after Hurricane Irma, has improved thanks to patrols by marines and police flown to the island to help overwhelmed local law enforcement.

5:10 a.m.

Hurricane Irma has sped up slightly and its eye is about to move across the lower Florida Keys early Sunday.

The hurricane is centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says weakening is forecast but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and near Florida's west coast.

Tens of thousands in Florida are huddled in shelters as the hurricane threatens to make a catastrophic hit on the state.