ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - Hurricane Irma is nearing the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as Floridians brace for the storm's approach.
Severe Weather Team 2 is tracking the latest path of the massive storm on Channel 2 Action News and wsbtv.com throughout the day.
At least eight people have died in the Caribbean and several more are injured as the storm nears the U.S.
As of 11 a.m., Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said the monster Category 5 storm's eye wall was 140 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with sustained winds of 185 mph and even higher gusts.
Going forward, the hurricane is forecast to move north of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands this afternoon, unleashing strong winds and heavy rain but not directly hitting the islands.
By Sunday morning, Irma will be approaching mainland Florida and the Florida Keys.
Preparations are already underway in Florida, which could face "direct impacts," according to the NHC, though it's too soon to tell for sure. The official NHC path shows Irma will travel straight up the middle of the state.
President Trump already declared a state of emergency in Florida.
Federal agencies in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are also preparing to help those displaced after the storm.
“It looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me not good,” Trump said.
But the latest computer models, which project possible paths for the storm, show Irma could move further to the east, threatening the Carolinas and the East Coast.
Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys.
At least 150,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation in the Florida Keys and other coastal communities near Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Evacuations for visitors are required beginning Wednesday morning while residents must evacuate starting Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Monroe County declares state of emergency, orders evacuations 7 a.m. Wednesday. https://t.co/RmY672b0bj— Florida Keys Sheriff (@mcsonews) September 5, 2017
Many residents of the Florida Keys didn't wait until Wednesday and instead headed out of the region Tuesday evening.
So far, there are no other mandatory evacuations in Florida, but officials in Miami-Dade County advised residents in low-lying areas, including Miami Beach, to begin evacuating on Wednesday.
Desperate for supplies, Floridians are now running low on necessities.
"We got Gatorade, we got beef jerky, pretzels, the non-perishable stuff. It's just better to be prepared,” said Maria Voss.
Some areas of Florida have already seen gas shortages, with the hashtag #nogas popping up on social media Tuesday. Twenty-five percent of the gas stations in Miami are already out of gas and lines for water are wrapping around the block.
Long lines formed all over the state, not just in the Miami area. Stations in the Tampa area have run out and long lines were common at Orlando stations as well.
"Well I went to Costco. Costco sold out of water,” said Kristina Ryan, a resident preparing for the storm.
Homeowners are scrambling to board up windows.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jose is following behind Irma on a similar path.
Jose officially became a tropical storm on Tuesday before noon with winds of 40 mph and is expected to become a Category 2 hurricane by the end of the week.
It could skirt the most northeastern Caribbean islands, but so far it is not projected to be a threat to Puerto Rico or the U.S.
Anemometer on Barbuda measured wind gusts above 150 mph before getting destroyed about an hour or so ago #Irma— Brian Monahan, WSB (@BMonahanWSB) September 6, 2017
#Irma now moving to the WNW... so it has made that turn more toward the northwest... some shifts in the models overnight on track— Brian Monahan, WSB (@BMonahanWSB) September 6, 2017
#Irma track -- point I'd make is we will continue to see shifts in track through next couple of days.. message the same -- SE watch close— Brian Monahan, WSB (@BMonahanWSB) September 6, 2017
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