Storm surges are expected in Naples and other areas of Florida after Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island Sunday afternoon — its second landfall in Florida as the state continues to brace for the now-Category 2 storm’s strong, 105-mph winds and flooding.
In its 8 p.m. ET advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was located about 15 miles east-northeast of Fort Meyers and about 30 miles southeast of Port Charlotte, with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, and heading north at 14 mph. Irma has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane.
“Dangerous storm surges expected immediately after” the eye of the storm moves up the Florida coast, the NHC said. Storm surge warnings are in effect for South Santee River to Jupiter Inlet, North Miami Beach to the Ochlockonee River, as well as for the Florida Keys and Tampa Bay.
Water levels are rapidly riding in Naples, the NHC reported. A federal tide gauge in Naples reported a 7 foot ride of water in just 90 minutes.
The nearly 400-mile-wide storm is expected to increase its speed Sunday night as Irma is expected to move north through Monday, according to th NHC. Irma is forecast to move inland toward north Florida and southwest Georgia Monday afternoon.
The latest forecasts project Irma will hug Florida’s western coast off Fort Myers through the day Sunday, with the eye wall reaching the Tampa Bay area by the end of the day. At least 28 people have died as Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean this week, destroying buildings and uprooting trees on its path toward Florida.