Hurricane Irma blasted the Florida Keys early Sunday morning with Category 4 winds and driving rain, and Governor Rick Scott is warning Floridians to heed the deadly threat.
Irma is expected to bring hurricane force winds and flooding to the Big Bend area sometime after 6 p.m., with winds lasting through early Monday morning. Officials predicted a storm surge in Northwest Florida of between 4 and 6 feet.
At a noon briefing, Scott said the entire Florida National Guard is activated and an additional 10,000 troops are on the way. Florida game officials have 500 water craft standing by and some 200 officers from other states are headed to Florida.
While high winds downed a construction crane in Miami, flooding remains the deadliest threat. Water topped U.S. 1 in Monroe County, cutting off the Keys.
As Irma turns its sights on Southwest Florida, storm surge there is expected to reach 15 feet in the Naples area, and from 5 to 8 feet in Tampa, Scott said.
Scott urged people to remain indoors until given the all-clear.
“This is a life threatening situation. Remember, in Southwest Florida, the storm surge comes after the strongest winds. Do not think the storm is over when the winds slow down. Local officials will let you know when it is safe to go out. The storm surge will rush in and could kill you.”
After touring the state over the past week, Scott said he expects to remain in Tallahassee most of Sunday.