TAMPA (WFLA) – The National Weather Service says the first hurricane-force wind gust was recorded in the Florida Keys Saturday night ahead of Hurricane Irma, according to the Associated Press.
The AP says the gust, recorded at the Smith Shoal Light station, was 74 mph.
At 9 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said wind gusts near hurricane force had been occurring in the Florida Keys.
A National Ocean Service station in Vaca Key recently reported sustained winds of 48 mph with a gust to 66 mph. Marathon reported winds of 51 mph with a gust of 71 mph.
Winds from Hurricane Irma are 120 mph as the storm sits about 105 miles southeast of Key West.
A northwest motion is expected to begin Saturday night with a turn toward the north-northwest on Sunday, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
Irma is expected to be near the Florida Keys by Sunday morning, and move along or near the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon.
“As of the 8 p.m. update, Irma has just weakened slightly with max winds at 120 mph. The eye is still very well defined and kind of skirting the northern coast of Cuba, but not moving very quickly right now,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Julie Phillips. “It’s really been slow to make any sort of northerly jog, so we’re still waiting for that to happen.”
“We will likely see a storm surge on the backside of this storm on the west and southern side once the storm passes to the north,” Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve said. “And that’s true for everybody up and down the west coast of Florida from Sarasota to Manatee County into Pinellas County and then eventually the northern counties: Citrus, Hernando and Pasco. And then within the bay itself.”