This Is When Hurricane Irma Is Expected to Hit the U.S.

With parts of the country still reeling from Hurricane Harvey, another major storm is headed our way. This time, it’s the Caribbean that’s first in its path, but Florida is also bracing for potential damage. It’s only a matter of time before the storm touches down on the mainland.

As residents rush to grocery stores to stock up on all the essentials, Irma is showing no mercy as she makes her way through the Caribbean. Here’s what you need to know about the hurricane’s predicted path of destruction.

1. Experts just upgraded the storm to a Category 5

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that the higher the number, the more severe the storm. And for Hurricane Irma, it keeps getting worse. As of Tuesday, September 5, the National Hurricane Center is calling Irma a “potentially catastrophic category 5” hurricane. Locations in the storm’s path are preparing for the worst, and everyone should keep a close eye on Irma’s route as it progresses.

2. It will hit the Leeward Islands on September 6

St. Martin during Hurricane Irma

The Caribbean islands are taking a beating. | Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images

As Hurricane Irma continues to grow in strength, it’s become “one of the strongest storms in the Atlantic, and is threatening to slam into Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands …” CNN reports. The current forecast shows that Irma will hit Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla by Wednesday morning, before moving on to the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

3. Experts expect Irma to hit Florida this weekend

As the storm continues to wreak havoc on the Caribbean, Florida residents are preparing for the worst. Slated to hit the Sunshine State by the start of this weekend, Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez has urged people to prepare as much as possible by stocking up on at least three days worth of food, water, and other essentials.

4. This is the first major hurricane to hit Florida since 2005

Palm trees knocked over after Hurricane Wilma

Hurricane Wilma caused damage across the state. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

In 2005, Hurricane Wilma ripped through Florida with no mercy, but it was the last major hurricane to make landfall in Florida for years. In fact, Wilma had been the last major hurricane to impact the entire country before Hurricane Harvey. However, if Irma ends up being as horrific as experts expect, that could all change. Given the severity of the impending hurricane, evacuations have already begun.

5. Florida’s governor has declared a state of emergency

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In addition to declaring a statewide emergency, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has requested federal aid from President Trump. In Scott’s letter to the president, he stressed the importance of being prepared. In particular, Scott said that large-scale evacuations may be necessary, and he asked that the president declare a pre-landfall emergency.

6. Florida evacuations are underway

Cars line up at gas station in Florida

Residents fuel up their cars in preparation for the storm, and possibly, an escape. | Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Meteorologists predict that Irma’s direct path will hit several parts of Florida, including Monroe County — home of the Florida Keys — and Miami Dade County, the state’s most populous county. According to The Washington Post, Miami-Dade County residents with special needs will evacuate on the morning of Wednesday, September 6. The county may also order some of the county’s 2.7 million residents to evacuate as early as Wednesday.

Furthermore, on September 5, Monroe County officials issued a mandatory evacuation for tourists starting on September 6 at 7 a.m., along with a mandatory evacuation for residents starting later that day at 7 p.m.

7. Irma could be the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic

Residents board up their windows

Residents try to prepare as much as they can. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

This scary tidbit is an unfortunate reality given Irma’s current tracking status. With maximum wind speeds of 175 mph being reported, it stands to be one of the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricanes on record. And, according to The Washington Post, “If Irma does make landfall as a Category 4 storm or stronger so close after Harvey’s impact on the Gulf Coast, it will be the first time on record that two storms of that strength hit the United States during the same hurricane season.”

Because the changing tides of a hurricane are hard to predict, and things can change at a moment’s notice, it’s important to stay up-to-date as Hurricane Irma continues on her path.