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Millions of people yesterday huddled in shelters or in battened-down homes in Florida as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, prepared to make landfall with 210kph winds and catastrophically high seas.

The northern eyewall of the storm has reached the lower Florida Keys with the National Weather Service (Key West) issuing an urgent warning to the people to take cover.

Though Hurricane Irma weakened to a Category 3 storm as it moved over Cuba, it regained strength early Sunday morning, once again becoming a Category 4 hurricane. It hugged the coast as it moved north.

Population centers such as Naples are expected to be inundated with winds and life-threatening storm surges on Sunday afternoon, while Tampa is set to experience later this evening its biggest hurricane since 1921.

The entire state of Florida was believed to be in Irma's path, and the storm made its second landfall on the state's Gulf coast on Sunday.

Sunday morning, Irma's winds clocked in at 130 miles per hour, but the storm's wind speeds previously reached 185 miles per hour. In some parts of the state, along and east of the hurricane's path, damage could be catastrophic.

Deadly storm rips across the Florida Keys, flooding Miami and coastal regions as constant tornado warnings and a rising tidal surge put remaining residents at high risk.

Total water level was three feet above normal in Key West at around 9:30 A.M. Winds continue to gust 70-90 miles per hour as Irma's eye moves toward the mainland. "These are all Irma rain bands". Georgia will at least get tropical-storm-force winds. "So, I hate to tell you that, but this is going to be all day and all night".

Storm damage may worsen if Irma drifts along Florida's west coast without coming ashore and weakening, said David Streit, a meteorologist at Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

"It's certainly one of those metropolitan areas where we have one of the greatest concerns, particularly with storm surge, particularly with inexperience", Feltgen said.

As for the damages from Irma, "It will cost a lot of money but right now we're anxious about lives, not costs", Trump said.

A Key West resident said that, if it becomes hard to get in or out of the farthest of the Florida Keys for the next several weeks, he'd rather be stuck where he is.


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