Irma is looking more and more Tampa-bound, forecasters say

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By SETH BORENSTEIN

AP Science Writer

The National Hurricane Center says it’s looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and Tampa Bay region. While the core of the massive storm is expected to miss the populated Florida southeast coast, forecasters say the Miami region will still experience life-threatening hurricane conditions.

Its winds weakened to 130 mph when it hit Cuba, but Irma is forecast to regain strength over the ultra-warm Florida Straits and hit western Florida as a strong Category 4 storm. The storm is likely to come ashore Sunday.

Hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said a direct hit into the Tampa region, which hasn’t felt a major hurricane since 1921, has long been a concern.

He said storm surge there will likely be a major problem.

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