Sun 1:55 a.m.: More than 170K without power in Florida
ST. PETERSBURG – The National Hurricane Center says Irma’s projected path is continuing to shift to the west, just a few crucial miles, that should keep its eye just off Florida’s west coast on a track to hit St. Petersburg, not Miami or even Tampa.
The hurricane’s leading edge was already lashing the Florida Keys with hurricane force winds. If the center of the storm keeps moving over warm Gulf of Mexico water, it may regain more strength before making landfall again.
St. Petersburg, like Tampa, has not taken a head-on blow from a major hurricane in nearly a century. Clearwater would be next, and then the storm would finally go inland northwest of Ocala.
The storm currently has top sustained winds of 120 mph and is moving northward at about 6 mph.
More than 170,000 homes and businesses in Florida have lost power.
Florida Power and Light said on its website that more than half of those outages were in the Miami-Dade area, where about 600,000 people have been ordered to evacuate.
The company has said it expects millions of people to lose power, with some areas experiences prolonged outages.
The company said it has assembled the largest pre-storm workforce in U.S. history, with more than 16,000 people ready to respond.