Tampa has not taken a head-on blow from a major hurricane in almost a century.
Storm surge is also going to be a major issue for the entire coast of Florida with 3-5 feet of inundation likely for most locations.
Still, Miami was not out of danger.
The storm killed at least 28 people as it raged westward through the Caribbean on the way to Florida, devastating several small islands, and grazing Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti before pummelling parts of Cuba's north coast with 11m waves.
The Tampa Bay area is now in the in the sights of Hurricane Irma.
The eye of Hurricane Irma has moved out of the Lakeland area and is pushing toward Zephyrhills and eastern Pasco County.
One woman in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood delivered her own baby, with medical personnel coaching her on the phone because emergency responders were not able to reach her, the city of Miami said on Twitter.
We will update this post as more information becomes available.
Irma, which prompted one of the largest evacuations in USA history, was a Category 4 hurricane about 20 miles (30 km) east-southeast of Key West, Florida, as of 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), the NHC reported. But some around Florida are choosing to stay, a rite of passage for many in the state who boast about the storms they weathered: Camille, Andrew, Katrina and others.
Aid rushed in to hurricane-scarred Florida early Tuesday, residents began to dig out, and officials slowly pieced together the scope of Irma's vicious path of destruction across the peninsula. In the following days, Irma is forecast to head through Florida and Georgia into Tennessee.
At least three people have died in Florida in traffic accidents connected to Hurricane Irma, American media are reporting.
Much of Miami is now underwater as rising sea levels surge into the city's streets, trapping millions inside their homes and shelters.
The first one was over the Florida Keys, which Irma hit as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds near 130 miles per hour. Around Florida, zoos, theme parks, rescue centers and other places with animals braced for Hurricane Irma's arrival. This means tropical storm force winds (sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour winds) are possible in these areas. That could cause serious flooding both in St. Petersburg and Tampa, even inland.
The storm is expected to travel northward in Florida to Ft.
As of this morning, more than 6 million people in Florida and Georgia were warned to leave their homes. The greatest threat would be Monday morning into the early afternoon.