Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida Keys, at least 1 dead

PHOTO: Dark clouds are seen over Miamis skyline before the arrival of Hurricane Irma to Florida, Sept. 9, 2017PlayCarlos Barria/Reuters
WATCH Hurricane Irma prompts mass evacuations in Florida

Hurricane Irma, which has strengthened again to Category 4, is bearing down on the Florida Keys, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain and leaving at least one person dead.

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A man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, was killed after he lost control of a truck he has driving that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

The death toll from the hurricane in the Caribbean meanwhile has risen to 22, bringing the total number of killed to at least 23.

The storm's eye was as of 8 a.m. ET about to move over the Florida Keys, as it was about 20 miles from Key West and 110 miles south of Naples, Florida, on the state's west coast.

Wind gusts up to 82 mph were reported in the Keys and up to 68 mph in Miami, according to the National Hurricane Center, reported ABC meteorologist Dan Manzo.

PHOTO:
SLIDESHOW: Photos: Irma leaves path of destruction

The National Weather Service earlier Sunday morning urged everyone in the Florida Keys to "hunker down," warning, "the worst winds are yet to come."

A tornado watch is also in effect across the area, with two twisters already reported in South Florida.

In Collier County, emergency vehicles were pulled from the roads Sunday morning as heavy wind gusts began blowing in, the county said.

A weather station near Fort Pierce reported a four-hour rainfall total of 10.53 inches between midnight and 5 a.m. The rainfall rate along the east coast of Florida was 3 inches per hour.

Parts of Tennessee were under a tropical storm watch Sunday morning, which could bring be a significant wind event for Alabama, Georgia, southern Tennessee and South Carolina.

The storm, which had been downgraded to Category 3 after making landfall as a rare Category 5 hurricane in Cuba early Saturday morning, has sent 124,000 people to Red Cross and Red Cross-affiliated shelters, as of Sunday morning. That figure does not include church and ad hoc shelters. More than six million people have been warned to evacuate its path.

PHOTO: Miami Beach has become a virtual ghost town after tourists and residents flee following the mandatory evacuation for the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017. Thibault Monnier/Pacific Coast News
Miami Beach has become a virtual ghost town after tourists and residents flee following the mandatory evacuation for the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 7, 2017.

PHOTO: Roof damage caused by high winds brought on by Hurricane Irma is shown, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Roof damage caused by high winds brought on by Hurricane Irma is shown, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm unprecedented.

"This is a life-threatening situation," Scott said Saturday. "Our state has never seen anything like it."

The governor stressed the dangers of what he called a "deadly, deadly, deadly storm surge."

ABC News meteorologists are forecasting storm surges of 10 feet in Tampa and Sarasota, and 10 to 15 feet from Fort Myers to Naples. Somewhat lower storm surges of 3 to 6 feet may occur from Miami to Key Largo.

Winds were already picking up in Florida early Saturday, with gusts between 40 and 60 mph.

Hurricane-force winds with gusts over 115 mph are possible in the Keys by daybreak Sunday.

Power outages, halted flights and empty ATMs

PHOTO: Waves crash against the Southernmost Point in Key West, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Hurricane Irmas leading edge bent palm trees and spit rain as the storm swirled toward Florida on Saturday. Rob ONeal/The Key West Citizen via AP
Waves crash against the Southernmost Point in Key West, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Hurricane Irma's leading edge bent palm trees and spit rain as the storm swirled toward Florida on Saturday.

As of 7 a.m. ET Sunday, 478,340 customers in Florida were without power. In Miami-Dade County alone, 250,740 were without power.

Some 10,000 flights have been cancelled in anticipation of Irma, about 7,000 of them in Florida alone.

Ahead of Irma's arrival in the Sunshine State, the last flights departed Friday night from Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Miami's airport officially remains open, while Fort Lauderdale's airport is closed for Saturday and Sunday.

Many ATM machines across southwest Florida were out of cash by late Friday night after people stocked up in case Hurricane Irma causes power outages that make debit and credit card transactions impossible, The Associated Press reported.

Millions evacuate; many others take shelter

PHOTO: Evacuees sit inside of the Germain Arena that is serving as a shelter from the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017 in Estero, Florida. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Evacuees sit inside of the Germain Arena that is serving as a shelter from the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017 in Estero, Florida.

Approximately 6.3 million Floridians are under mandatory or voluntary evacuations, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Saturday. When evacuation orders in South Carolina and Georgia are included, the number climbs to 6.8 million.

PHOTO: A rain squall line moves over the southern edge of the Florida peninsula as conditions deteriorate from Hurricane Irma in Homestead, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017. Erik S. Lesser/EPA
A rain squall line moves over the southern edge of the Florida peninsula as conditions deteriorate from Hurricane Irma in Homestead, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017.

Germain Arena, a large shelter between Naples and Fort Myers along Florida's west coast, is already at capacity Saturday as hundreds of people were in line waiting to get in.

PHOTO: The Interstate remains empty as the outer bands of Hurricane Irma reached South Florida early Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Miami. David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP
The Interstate remains empty as the outer bands of Hurricane Irma reached South Florida early Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Miami.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez said Saturday morning about 25,000 residents are sheltered in Miami-Dade alone, a number he called "unprecedented in our history." 

"We must remain vigilant," Giménez said. "The storm will still strengthen ... and we will be impacted." 

PHOTO: A child plays outside the Germain Arena as families wait to take shelter from Hurricane Irma in Estero, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017. Bryan Woolston/Reuters
A child plays outside the Germain Arena as families wait to take shelter from Hurricane Irma in Estero, Fla., Sept. 9, 2017.

A slew of counties and cities in south Florida have issued curfews as the storm nears. Counties include Broward, Flagler, Orange, Palm Beach, Volusia, and Seminole. The cities of Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Homestead, Key Biscayne, Melbourne Beach, Coral Springs, and Coral Gables also issued curfews.

ABC News' Chris Donato, Matt Foster, Daniel Peck and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

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