Hurricane Irma, which has strengthened again to Category 4, is bearing down on the Florida Keys, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain and leaving at least one person dead.
A man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, was killed after he lost control of a truck he has driving that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
The death toll from the hurricane in the Caribbean meanwhile has risen to 22, bringing the total number of killed to at least 23.
The storm’s eye was as of 8 a.m. ET about to move over the Florida Keys, as it was about 20 miles from Key West and 110 miles south of Naples, Florida, on the state’s west coast.
Wind gusts up to 82 mph were reported in the Keys and up to 68 mph in Miami, according to the National Hurricane Center, reported ABC News.
The National Weather Service earlier Sunday morning urged everyone in the Florida Keys to “hunker down,” warning, “the worst winds are yet to come.”
A tornado watch is also in effect across the area, with two twisters already reported in South Florida.
In Collier County, emergency vehicles were pulled from the roads Sunday morning as heavy wind gusts began blowing in, the county said.
A weather station near Fort Pierce reported a four-hour rainfall total of 10.53 inches between midnight and 5 a.m. The rainfall rate along the east coast of Florida was 3 inches per hour.
Parts of Tennessee were under a tropical storm watch Sunday morning, which could bring be a significant wind event for Alabama, Georgia, southern Tennessee and South Carolina.
The storm, which had been downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba early Saturday morning, has sent 124,000 people to Red Cross and Red Cross-affiliated shelters, as of Sunday morning. That figure does not include church and ad hoc shelters. More than six million people have been warned to evacuate its path.
Source: ABC News