The National Hurricane Center reports that the eye of Category 5 Hurricane Irma is moving away from the Virgin Islands.
Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are spreading over Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds remain at 185 mph.
Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph. On the forecast track, Irma will pass just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday night and then pass near or just north of the coast of the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti) on Thursday. The extremely dangerous storm would be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas on Thursday night.
Forecasters say the threat of direct hurricane impacts in Florida over the weekend and early next week has increased. Hurricane watches could be issued for portions of the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula on Thursday.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles, the hurricane center says.
Katia has formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico near the state of Veracruz in Mexico.
Jose remains far out in the Atlantic and is no posing a threat to land at this time.
"This storm is powerful and deadline," Scott says.
Every Floridian should take the storm seriously and take steps to protect their family, he said.
His staff is working to keep gasoline flowing to the state.
A task force is also devoted to the Florida Keys, where hospitals are being evacuated.
Help has been requested from the federal government.
Florida National Guard troops that were sent to Texas are being recalled to Florida.
Fuel availability is a top priority and Scott has asked other states to allow heavier fuel trucks to pass through on their way to Florida.
"If you know you are going to shelter in your county, take only as much fuel as you need," Scott says. Take only what you need on fuel, water or food.
At 9 p.m. Scott will speak with fuel retailers and hopes that gas is available at every station.
School buses are being used in Monroe and Miami-Dade to help with evacuations. They are on standby for Broward County.
All Florida Keys residents will be under a mandatory evacuation order tonight.
Evacuate when you are ordered to do so, he said. All tolls have been waived on Florida highways.
1,000 Florida National Guard members are currently activated to help with Hurricane Irma. They are helping with evacuations now and will focus on search and rescue after the storm passes. We also have 30,000 troops ready to support the state.
Florida utility providers are already prepositioning resources throughout Florida and in neighboring states.
Lake Okeechobee water levels are still being lowered. We have no major concerns with the dike.
Shelters: Evacuees from the Keys can shelter at Florida International University.
Retailers are working to refill grocery shelves. More supplies are on the way, Scott said.
We need volunteers, Scott said. We need about 17,000 volunteers statewide. Go to volunteerflorida.org to sign up to help or call 1 (800) FLHELP1.
Every family needs to have a plan. Be ready today, prepare right now.
Prescriptions can be refilled early at Florida pharmacies, the governor said.
Irma continues to move toward the west-northwest at about 16 mph. After passing just north of Puerto Rico tonight, Irma will pass near or just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday. Maximum sustained winds remain at 185 mph.
Irma remained a Category 5 storm Wednesday with sustained wind speeds of at least 185 mph, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. It passed over the island Barbuda in the eastern Caribbean Sea around 2 a.m. Wednesday, deadening communication lines there and ripping off the roof of the island's police station, sending officers for cover in the fire house.