The National Hurricane Center has made a chilling announcement this morning: Hurricane Irma, which is barreling towards the Caribbean and could reach Florida later this week, is now a Category 5 storm.
As Live Science points out, that’s the highest possible ranking on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure hurricane wind speeds.
As a Category 5 storm, CNN reports that Hurricane Irma’s winds are reaching a maximum speed of 175 mph.
According to current predictions, Hurricane Irma should be near or over Antigua and Barbuda late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. It could reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later Wednesday afternoon.
As early as this weekend, the storm could reach Florida.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency across all 67 counties in the state in light of the news.
A statement from the Governor’s office reads, “by declaring a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, Governor Scott is ensuring that local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm and are not hindered, delayed or prevented from taking all necessary actions to keep communities safe.”
“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” the statement quotes Governor Scott as saying.
“I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridans.”
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.”
Urgent: If you are not aware and up to date on Hurricane Irma, read up on it now. Folks this is potentially more dangerous than Harvey.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) September 4, 2017
Photos from Miami show supplies flying off the shelves already.
— Tom Martinelli (@firstnameTom) September 4, 2017
While it’s not sure for certain which parts of Florida will be directly impacted by Hurricane Harvey should it make landfall there, Puerto Rico is bracing for what looks like certain devastation.
According to CNN, hundreds of people are rushing to stores in the commonwealth, scooping up plywood and supplies after Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló declared a state of emergency there on Monday.
Please continue to pray for all those – in the United States and elsewhere – caught in Hurricane Irma’s path.
Track updates related to the storm here.