‘This is as real as it gets:' Florida Keys residents warned to leave after Irma shifts west

- The National Weather Service's Key West outpost could not have been clearer Friday: If you're in the Keys, get out now. 

In the first of several tweets sent Friday by NWS Key West, residents and visitors were told, in no uncertain terms, that the Florida Keys would not be safe for anyone when Hurricane Irma passed over. 

"PLEASE! If you live in the Key's, time is running out!!! You still have time to evacuate! #Irma is a life threatening storm!!! #FLkeys"

The first of the urgent tweets from @NWSKeyWest came just after the 5 p.m. update. It read:

***THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS***

***NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE***

***YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO EVACUATE***

Another tweet an hour later echoed the message. 

***NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE*** ***EVACUATE NOW***

And at 8 p.m., another message, pleading with folks to get out of harm's way. 

"PLEASE! If you live in the Key's, time is running out!!! You still have time to evacuate! #Irma is a life threatening storm!!! #FLkeys"

Hurricane Irma is predicted to hit Key West as a Category 5 storm, with a storm surge of 6 to 12 feet above ground level along Florida's southwest coast and in the Keys. Irma already killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless as it devastated small resort islands known for their warm, turquoise water.

About 5.6 million people in Florida -- more than one-quarter of the state's population -- were ordered to evacuate and another 540,000 were told to leave the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Hotels as far away as Atlanta filled up with evacuees.

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