Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph. The National Hurricane Center said that Irma is forecast to weaken but will remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and nears Florida's west coast.
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.