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Tampa prepares for Hurricane Irma: ‘We are about to get punched in the face’

Click to play video: 'Tampa remains in Hurricane Irma’s cross hairs as storm continues to creep up Gulf coast' Tampa remains in Hurricane Irma’s cross hairs as storm continues to creep up Gulf coast
WATCH ABOVE: Tampa remains in Hurricane Irma's cross hairs as storm continues to creep up Gulf coast – Sep 10, 2017

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said on Twitter that the city has established a 6 p.m. curfew ahead of the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma.

READ MORE: LIVE UPDATES: Tracking Hurricane Irma’s path

“We are about to get punched in the face. We need to be prepared,” he warned his fellow citizens who will be experiencing its first hurricane in almost a 100 years.

Irma, now a Category 3 hurricane, is bringing 120 mph winds as it moves toward Naples and Marcos Island.

The storm is slowly moving up Florida’s Gulf Coast at around 13 km per hour.

WATCH: Anthony Farnell in Tampa

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The Tampa region has already started to feel the effects, according to Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell, who is embedded in the city.

He said the city will begin to experience hurricane-force winds after 6 p.m. ET while the eye of Hurricane Irma will pass over the area around midnight.

Tampa will experience its biggest storm surge between midnight and 5 a.m., Farnell explained.

WATCH: Florida waterways left empty after being drained by Irma’s power

Click to play video: 'Florida water ways left empty after being drained by Irma’s power' Florida water ways left empty after being drained by Irma’s power
Florida water ways left empty after being drained by Irma’s power – Sep 10, 2017

The Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater metropolitan area is home to some 3 million citizens.

Hurricane Irma has pushed water out of a bay in Tampa, but forecasters are telling people not to venture out there, because it’s going to return with a potentially deadly vengeance.

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READ MORE: Hurricane Irma to dump 38 trillion litres of water on Florida in 36 hours

On Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, approximately 100 people were walking Sunday afternoon on what was Old Tampa Bay — a body of water near downtown. Hurricane Irma’s winds and low tide have pushed the water unusually far from its normal position. Some people are venturing as far as 200 yards (180 metres) out to get to the water’s new edge. The water is normally about 4 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 metres) deep and reaches a seawall.

Storm models that earlier in the week projected Irma to bear most heavily on eastern Florida, now have the storm barreling right up the western coastline, menacing population hubs around Tampa and Fort Myers

“People haven’t known exactly what to do, because the situation changes every 12 hours,” said Adam Gray, pastor of Redeeming Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., who two days ago (delete: week) talked to relatives on the east coast about staying with him.

READ MORE: Hurricane Irma is so strong, it pulled the ocean away from Bahamas shoreline

Chris Cardona and his wife Laurie left their mobile home near Miami on Thursday to seek refuge with friends near Tampa.

“Not only did we go west, but so did Irma. She’s tracking us, that feisty minx,” Cardona, 54, told Reuters by phone.

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— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press

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