Terrifying images continue to emerge of Hurricane Irma as the catastrophic storm cell wreaks havoc across the southern tip of the United States.
Authorities now fear Tampa will be next hit by the category two storm cell with wind speeds of 160 km/h expected to hit the unprepared region, CNN reports.
Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn said areas along city shoreline could expect a storm surge anywhere from 3 to 8 feet – the first of its kind since 1921.
"We know that we are ground zero for Hurricane Irma," he told reporters.
"We have for 90 years avoided this day, but I think our day has come."
It comes as the National Hurricane Center reported that Hurricane Irma’s eye was about 80km southeast of Tampa 11pm local Florida time (1pm AEST) and moving at a speed of of 22km/h.
Across social media, scores of terrifying videos and images have been shared of what’s been called one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the Atlantic, having killed two dozen people in the Caribbean.
Earlier today, the storm cell was downgraded to a category two, as authorities confirm at least three people have died in storm related car crashes.
More than six million people have been ordered to evacuate the southern end, that's about a third of the state's population.
Irma is starting to lose some strength but forecasters warn it will remain very powerful. Even a couple of tornadoes have been recorded, while another big worry for emergency crews being storm surge flooding.