Officials ordered residents and tourists to leave the southern half of the Florida Keys on Thursday as Hurricane Dennis, an unusually powerful July storm, attained major-storm status as it slogged north through warm Caribbean waters.

Packing top winds of 130 mph and classified as a Category 4 hurricane, Dennis could subject the Lower Keys to dangerous winds and a 3- to 6-foot storm surge by this afternoon, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

"We recommend you pack up, secure your property as best you can and leave," Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Becky Herrin said her department advised those in the southernmost Keys.

Hurricane Grows; Keys Get Order to Evacuate


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