Wilma Moves Over Southern Florida Peninsula

Hurricane Wilma is pounding the southern Florida peninsula after coming ashore as a Category 2 hurricane early this morning (Oct. 24). As of 9 a.m. EDT, the center of Hurricane Wilma was about 45 miles southwest of West Palm Beach, Fla. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported in its latest Public Advisory that maximum sustained winds were near 110 mph, with higher gusts, and the Category 2 hurricane was moving toward the northeast at 25 mph, with an expected increase in forward speed in the next 24 hours. Meteorologists said "some continued weakening" is likely as the storm crosses southern Florida.

Later today, the center of Wilma is expected to emerge off the east coast of the southern Florida peninsula and head into the Atlantic.

"This is a large hurricane, and the strongest winds in the eyewall extend well away from the center," meteorologists reported in the advisory. "Persons are advised not to venture outdoors during the relative calm of the eye because winds will soon increase quite rapidly."

Hurricane warnings remained in effect for all of the Florida Keys, along the Florida west coast from Longboat Key southward, and along the Florida east coast from Titusville southward (including Lake Okeechobee).

"Storm surge flooding of 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels is still possible along the southwest Florida coast near and to the south of where the center has made landfall," the meteorologists continued. "Storm surge flooding of five to nine feet above normal is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay…as well as in Lake Okeechobee."

The extreme southeastern coast of Florida could experience storm surge flooding of two to four feet. Meteorologists expect Wilma to dump four to six inches of rain (up to 10 inches) on central and southern Florida, including the Keys.

Residents of the southern Florida peninsula and the keys could see tornadoes today.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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