The center of the eye of Hurricane Irma landed at 9:10 local time (Eastern time) in the Florida Keys, with winds around 130 miles an hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Wednesday.
In a special bulletin, the NHC said that the center of the eye of the hurricane reached Cayo Cudjoe, in the southernmost cays, where for hours the winds have been strong.
Irma, who is responsible for the deaths of 3 people in Florida and at least 25 other material damages in the Caribbean, is 20 miles southeast of Key West, the southern end of the US mainland, and moves toward the north-east at a speed of 8 miles per hour.
The bulletin indicates that a gust of 106 miles per hour was recorded at Key Deer National Refuge in Big Pine Key.
The NHC warned that you should not go out even if the winds are lessening when you are passing the eye of the hurricane, as “dangerous winds will return very quickly” when the center of the cyclone moves away.
Irma’s estimated record, which landed in Cuba as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds of about 159 miles per hour, indicates that the cyclone may hit land near cities on the west coast of the state such as Fort Myers and Naples, which is 110 miles south.
The NHC reported that the Cuban government has suspended the hurricane warning in the provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara after Irma left its coast in the last hours.
After hitting ground in Cuba, Irma lost strength, but regained some of it by re-entering the Florida Strait, although NHC meteorologists predict a gradual weakening as she heads north, yet a “mighty hurricane” .
Experts also anticipate that the cyclone will record an increase in its speed of travel today, before entering southwest Georgia on Monday afternoon.
The hurricane’s force winds extend up to 80 miles from the center of Irma and its tropical storm winds sit up to 217 miles, much wider than the width of the Florida peninsula.
The force of the winds and the heavy rains that Irma generates have begun to wreak havoc in Miami, where there are already flooded streets and fallen trees.
Alongside the winds, the danger lies in heavy rainfall, which could leave water accumulations of up to 25 inches in the Keys and up to 20 inches in the south of the peninsula.
In addition, sea level rise, which could reach 15 feet in the extreme southwest of the Florida Peninsula, could flood cities like Naples, Fort Myers or Marco Island.
Another major hazard is tornadoes and the National Weather Service issued a notice for the entire southern state until local noon.
All this has forced to issue compulsory evacuation orders of 6.3 million people, which has caused in the last days interminable roadblocks in the north.