Irma forecast to hit Florida Keys at daybreak

The winds and sea are whipped up off of the Rickenbacker Causeway as two people cross the street in Miami as Hurricane Irma approaches on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. ( Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

AP — Forecasters expect winds of more than 110 mph from Hurricane Irma to smack the Florida Keys around daybreak Sunday.

Irma was lingering over the northern Cuba coast on Saturday. Its forward speed has slowed to 9 mph (15 kph) and it has yet to make the expected big northward turn toward Florida yet. Its maximum sustained winds were 125 mph (205 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast — which still can change a bit and has a margin of error of dozens of miles — projects Irma’s potent eye to make three landfalls into Florida.

First, there’s a projected Sunday morning hit in the Lower Keys. Then later, after moving over water, Irma is expected to come ashore around Cape Coral or Fort Myers. From there it is predicted to steam inland go over the highly populated Tampa Bay region.

After Tampa, Irma is projected to briefly go back out to the Gulf of Mexico and then hit north of Homosassa Springs for a third landfall. In the following days, Irma is forecast to head through Florida and Georgia into Tennessee.

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