MIAMI — Officials at the National Hurricane Center said Sunday evening that Hurricane Irma probably will hit Tampa as a Category 1 storm.
Yet even as the storm weakens, it continues to be dangerous and life-threatening, authorities warned.
Even as it has weakened (Irma was a Category 2 story by Sunday afternoon) it has picked up speed throughout the day, forecasters said, noting that the storm is now tracking at about 14 mph. At its current speed, the storm is expected to reach Tampa late Sunday night or early Monday. The center of the storm is now north of Naples.
Irma also is bringing with it many of the anticipated impacts, including the “rapid rise of water,” according to Mark DeMara, acting deputy director of the National Hurricane Center.
Already more than 2 million power outages have been reported.
Irma first made landfall in Florida on the Lower Keys around 9 a.m. Sunday. Its landed on the peninsula around 3:35 p.m., slamming into Marco Island, south of Naples. Police there reported a wind gust of 130 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
As DeMara said during an earlier briefing: “Today is going to the be the long day.”