CATEGORY 2: Irma Makes Landfall At Marco Island; Catastrophic Strike On Southwest Florida Underway

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Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is hugging the coast as it moves north.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds were at 110 mph (177 kph), just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland late Sunday afternoon. It was smacking Naples after coming ashore in Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.

The hurricane center says “although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning.”

The center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida’s west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon.

The center of Irma is located about 10 miles southeast of Naples, Florida, and is moving north at 12 mph, the northern eyewall has now moved ashore Naples and much of Collier County. A recent gust to 142 mph was recorded in Naples, and they may not escape the eyewall into the calmer eye.

A wind gust to 130 mph has been clocked at the Marco Island Emergency Operations Center. Winds are now already gusting over 70 mph near Ft. Myers, as well.

Wind gusts up to 109 mph have been clocked in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale metro. A construction crane boom and counterweight collapsed over a building under construction in downtown Miami near Biscayne Boulevard.

(AP)