Prepare Now: "Potentially Catastrophic" Hurricane Irma Upgraded to Category 5

The storm could hit Florida later this week.

Getty Images

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the Caribbean as an "extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane" this week, according to the latest updates from the National Weather Service. This "" hurricane is expected to hit the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tomorrow and move towards Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba later this week before making landfall in the continental U.S. this weekend in Florida, possibly.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

8 am Special Advisory: is now a category 5 with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) More:

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic)

Here's everything you need to know to prepare for this major hurricane.

How Irma Will Affect the Caribbean

Yesterday, Hurricane Irma had maximum sustained winds of 175 MPH — — and was located 270 miles east of Antigua.

Hurricane Irma is now a category 5. Watch The Weather Channel now for Live Coverage and the latest track for Florida.

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel)

There are currently hurricane warnings issued for the northern Leeward islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which includes Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin/Sint Maarten, St. Barthelemy, Vieques and Culebra. The hurricane is expected to hit those islands later today through early Thursday.

The Dominican Republic, Haiti and Turks and Caicos are currently under hurricane watch, and the hurricane is forecast to hit between Thursday and Friday.

While there are no official warnings yet for the Bahamas and Cuba, if Irma continues on the expected path, the storm will hit those islands on Friday into this weekend.

8:00 AM EDT Advisory/Advertencia : Hurricane/Huracán Irma.

— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

How Irma Will Affect the U.S.

While the National Weather Service says it's too early to determine how Irma will affect the continental U.S., they say there is an "increasing chance" of the Irma hitting the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and weekend.

Key Messages on Category 5 Hurricane for 8am EDT

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic)

According to the most recent National Hurricane Center forecast, Hurricane Irma could hit southern Florida as early as Saturday night, . The average error in tracking a hurricane four to five days out is between 175-225 miles, so it's hard to predict exactly where Irma will go. Because of that, the NHC is warning people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas to monitor the storm closely and have a hurricane plan in place.

How to Pack a Last-Minute Hurricane Preparation Kit

While time is running out to prepare for this life-threatening storm, you can still put together a . Here's what you should pack:

  • One gallon of water per person per day
  • Non-perishable food for each person for 3-7 days
  • Dry pet food
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight with extra bulbs
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Pliers or wrench to turn off utilities
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Batteries in different sizes
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Extra blankets and clothes
  • Heavy Gloves
  • Battery-operated clock or watch
  • Toilet paper
  • Disposable plates and utensils
  • Map of the area you live in, in case GPS are out and you need to find an alternate route if roads are blocked
    Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
    More From Lifestyle