Hurricane Irma Barrels Toward Florida; Nowhere in FL Keys Safe

Here, Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cuba as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 8.
Here, Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cuba as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 8. (Image credit: NASA SPoRT)

Hurricane Irma weakened a bit as it delivered a hard blow to the north coast of Cuba Friday night and into this morning (Sept. 9), but experts anticipate the now-Category 4 hurricane will re-strengthen before slamming into the western half of the Florida Peninsula.

As of 8 a.m. ET, Hurricane Irma, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (209 km/h), was about 225 miles (365 km) south of Miami and moving west at 12 mph (19 km/h). Miami-Dade County is already feeling the outer parts of the storm, according to the National Weather Service. "Expect damaging winds and heavy rain," the NWS tweeted, regarding Miami-Dade. [Hurricane Irma: Everything You Need to Know About This Monster Storm]

Irma now appears to have the Florida Keys in its crosshairs, with the NWS Key West tweeting last night: "NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE*** ***EVACUATE NOW."

The NWS is urging everyone in or near the predicted path of Irma, a 400 mile-wide (645 kilometers) storm, to take this storm seriously. (Florida is about 120 miles, or nearly 200 km, wide.)

The core of Irma will continue near or over the north coast of Cuba this morning and is expected to reach the Florida Keys Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, Irma is forecast to be near the southwest coast of the Florida Peninsula.

Irma is "expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it approaches Florida," the National Hurricane Center said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a list of shelters for those under evacuation orders.

Here are several ways you can prepare for a hurricane.

The probable path of Irma's center. (Image credit: NWS)

Originally published on Live Science.

Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.