At 2 p.m., the National Hurricane Center released reports showing Irma’s eyewall was just 35 miles south of Naples.
Naples and Marco Island are expected to weather Irma at her most powerful.
While Irma was initially expected to hit Collier county as a Category 4 with winds exceeding 130 mph, recent updates show Irma as a powerful Category 3 with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.
This weakening is good news for those who remain hunkered down in their Collier homes, but Floridians should remain on guard as Irma moves further into the Gulf of Mexico’s warm water, which might give Irma the extra push that would cause her to be recategorized at a higher level.
Irma has been a notoriously unpredictable hurricane, and even though it seems the eye contains safe conditions, that could change at any second, leaving those not under cover in a perilous position. The National Weather Service warned individuals that even though winds are calm in the eye, it’s still not safe to go outside.
Irma’s effects are beginning to be felt beyond Naples. As Irma’s outer bands reach the center of Florida, power outages, tornadoes, and strong winds are now ravaging the state. According to the Power Tracker Map — a graphic showing which counties in Florida have lost electricity — over the half the state is without power. Counties from St. Pete to Naples are currently in the grey, and power is not expected to be restored until after the storm passes.
In a report done by USA Today, an estimated 3 million Floridians are currently in darkness, but Irma has taken more from Florida than electricity. Since her landfall early this morning, there have been 3 confirmed fatalities, one of whom was a Hardee county sheriff’s deputy. His death was caused by a head-on accident as he fled from Irma’s wind and rain.
The Collier Emergency Operations Center urged Floridians to remain in their homes and shelters until after the storm passes to prevent any further tragedies.
“We can rebuild your homes,” Gov. Rick Scott said earlier this week. “But we cannot rebuild your families.”
His words ring especially true in light of Irma’s worst effect on South Florida yet.
Check back with Eagle News for more on Irma’s development.