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The Latest: Irma's winds lash Key West; eye just offshore

Written by The Associated Press | Sep 10, 2017 7:04 AM
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Photo by (NOAA via AP)

In this geocolor GOES-16 satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at 18:30 UTC (2:30 p.m. EDT), the eye of Hurricane Irma moves northwest just off the coast of Cuba and south of Florida. The National Hurricane Center says it's looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will strike the Florida Keys starting Sunday.

(St. Petersburg, FL) -- With Hurricane Irma closing in on Florida, the storm's winds are already lashing parts of the state. 

In Key West, Carol Walterson Stroud and her family are huddled in a third floor apartment at a senior center.

Stroud said early Sunday that the wind was blowing hard, but her family was OK. In a text message to a reporter, she said: ``We are good so far.''

As of 6 a.m. EDT, forecasters say the Category 4 storm is centered about 30 miles south of the island.

The 60-year-old is with her husband and granddaughter and their dog. Stroud says she plans to step outside once the ``eye'' of the hurricane passes over later Sunday.

Meanwhile, to the north, access to all of Pinellas County's barrier islands, including the popular spring break destination of Clearwater Beach, has been shut off.

Irma's maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph.

The National hurricane center says weakening is forecast but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and near Florida's west coast.

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