Irma’s storm surge could hit 10 feet in Florida

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Irma weakened a bit more but remains a powerful threat to Florida with storm surges that could reach 10 feet in some places.

Irma’s winds dropped to 150 mph, still a Category 4 dangerous storm, as it moves between Cuba and the Bahamas over warmer than normal waters that can intensify tropical storms. Irma’s core should hit Florida early Sunday morning, but its tropical force storm winds can arrive as early as Saturday morning.

The hurricane center is projecting storm surge on top of normal tides of 5 to 10 feet all the way from Jupiter Inlet, which is north of Palm Beach on Florida’s east coast, around to Bonita Beach, which is on Florida’s west coast south of Fort Myers. The Florida Keys will likely be swamped. From Bonita Beach north to Venice, storm surge is expected to be 3 to 5 feet. And from Jupiter Inlet north to Sebastian Inlet, which is just south of Cape Canaveral, it is expected to be 3 to 6 feet.

Forecasters say this life-threatening surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

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