The residents of the Florida Keys can breathe a sigh of relief over Hurricane Irene. The center core of the storm is now at latitudes north of the Florida Keys, and Hurricane Irene has officially missed the island chain, Jon Rizzo, warning coordinator for the National Weather Service office in Key West, said Thursday.
The center of Irene came within 230 miles of Key Largo, the closest point in the Keys to the Category 3 storm, Rizzo said.
With its center now about 205 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Irene is continuing to move north-northwest at 13 mph, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. It it is expected to turn north and then north-northeast early Friday.
There were no tropical cyclone warnings or watches in the Keys -- or anywhere else in Florida -- associated with the storm. Monroe County Emergency Management officials officials did not need to issue protective actions.
Still, because the outer bands may cause rough boating conditions in and around the Keys, the Key West National Weather Service office continues a small craft advisory today through Friday morning for all waters (Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay) between Key Largo and the Seven Mile Bridge. After that, small craft operators in the Upper and Middle Keys should exercise caution through Saturday morning.
For more information and complete local weather forecast, visit http://www.srh.noaa.gov/key.