Hurricane Irma accelerated to become a Category 4 storm once again Sunday morning as it began to whip through the Florida Keys. Some 430,000 Floridians had already lost power as Irma made landfall, and a storm surge of up to 15 feet is expected in Gulf Coast areas, promising fast and dangerous flooding. Ocean water had surged by 2 feet in Key West by 4 a.m. ET.
"A very dangerous day is unfolding in the Florida Keys and much of West Florida," said the National Hurricane Center's Michael Brennan on Sunday. "It certainly could inundate the entire island." After Irma leaves the Keys, Brennan says it remains to be seen where Irma will next make landfall as it moves up Florida's western coast toward Tampa.
Authorities have issued stern evacuation warnings for about one third of Florida's population, and holdouts have been warned they cannot expect rescue at the height of the storm. "Once the storm starts, law enforcement cannot save you," said Gov. Rick Scott (R) at a Saturday news conference.