Dangerous Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, its brunt targeting the Keys to Tampa

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The Washington Post – Large and extremely powerful, Hurricane Irma is sweeping toward Florida, its outer rainbands and strong winds already lashing the southern peninsula. If the storm reaches its full potential, it could be one of the worst hurricanes in the state’s history.

The latest computer model forecasts suggest the vicious storm is likely to ride up Florida’s west coast, with a devastating combination of wind and storm surge from the Florida Keys through Naples and Fort Myers and up the coast to Tampa. It’s not clear exactly where the storm will make landfall, but destructive winds could batter numerous population centers along Florida’s west coast. And coastal waters could rise 10 to 15 above normally dry land, completely inundating homes, businesses, and roads.

“In the FLORIDA KEYS, it is a full-scale hurricane emergency,” Bryan Norcross, The Weather Channel’s hurricane specialist, posted to Facebook. “Key West is probably going to get its worst storm in modern history, and perhaps ever.”

He added: “In SOUTHWEST FLORIDA – the NAPLES-FT. MYERS-CAPE CORAL area, the potential exists for the worst hurricane in history. The core of Hurricane Irma, potentially with winds gusting over 150 mph or more, is going to come close. Buildings in Southwest Florida are not, in general, built to withstand these winds.”

Hurricane warnings cover much the Florida peninsula’s coastal areas. Hurricanes watches extended farther north into coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

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