Jose now has top sustained winds of 150 mph (240 kph) and as it moves toward the northern leeward islands at a speedy 18 mph.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for St. Thomas and St. John.
The government of Antigua has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the British Virgin Islands
The government of France has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for St. Martin and St. Barts.
The government of Sint Maarten has issued a Tropical Storm Warning as well.
Meteorology director Jeff Masters at Weather Underground says Hurricane Jose will definitely add insult to the injuries caused by Irma in the Caribbean. But he says the islands that got nailed — namely Barbuda, St. Martin and Anguila — will mostly suffer tropical storm force winds and heavy rains.
That will hamper relief efforts so it's a big deal, but he says it's "nothing compared to what they already went through."
— Associated Press
The beachside bar Ka’Tiki on Treasure Island was packed Friday afternoon with mostly locals who seemed unenthused about the looming storm. Bartenders were telling guests that the bar, which has a standalone building and outdoor thatched tiki hut, will stay open for a long as possible.
“We’re making decisions hou-by-hour here,” said general manager Paul Wille. “We’ll probably close Sunday but stay open through Saturday. And we’ll get down here to make an assessment by Monday.”
Most of the tourists were gone by Friday, Wille said. He’s just hoping his employees can continue to make it to Treasure Island to keep the bar open.
“It’s just us and the locals who refused to leave. We’re kind of like the living room for Sunset Beach,” he explained.
Staff did board up the windows of the bar’s building, but the tiki hut will have to weather the elements without extra support.
“We’re praying it makes it through,” Wille said.
George Shukis is taking names.
He patrols around Harbourside Condos grounds with a clipboard and sturdy Nikon camera, taking note of what’s left on the balconies Friday morning: potted plants, plastic beach chairs, wicker furniture.
It’s for their own good, he says. “I just can’t have missiles out there.”
Shukis, the condo association president, is 66. He kayaks, paddleboards and hits the gym for two hours, five days a week. He’s in better shape than many of the residents in the 108 units in two identical, six-story buildings he oversees on the grimly named Deadman’s Key in South Pasadena.
The majority of the residents are seasonal, safe from looming Hurricane Irma in the midwest and Canada. But about 40 percent live year-round in a priority evacuation zone, yet they intend to stay, Shukis says. He won’t leave them, either.
“When you volunteer for something, you have to follow through,” he said. “I have a sense of duty.”
Shukis, a retired attorney from Houston, has endured his share of Texas hurricanes. But he worries about the cars on the ground level garage, feet away from Boca Ciega Bay. He frets over the 90-year-old residents who may not be fully prepared for the storm.
He said he’s personally collected 100 pounds of ice in his sixth-floor unit to keep their medications fresh. The rest is used to accompany gin.
Shukis says he expects high winds and a storm surge. He’s not worried, but he has taped his windows on his sixth-floor unit.
“It’s going to get unpleasant,” he says alongside the condo pool with lounge chairs sunk to the bottom. “I believe in God, I believe in tomorrow.”
Pasco County extended its evacuation order Friday morning, telling all residents west of U.S. 19 and an area north of Fox Hollow Drive and west of Little Road to seek shelter in advance of Hurricane Irma.
The mandatory evacuation could affect as many as 120,000 west Pasco residents, officials estimated. The county also mandated evacuations for the occupants of the more than 64,000 mobile and manufactured homes across the county.
The county opened 10 public schools as shelters at 10 a.m. and planned to open four additional shelters at 4 p.m. Friday. Because they feared public complacency and a rush of late arrivals this weekend, the county also asked churches, charter schools and other organizations to consider volunteering as emergency shelters
“The big message is about personal responsibility,” said Sheriff Chris Nocco. “You have to take care of yourself and your family.’’
Kevin Guthrie, assistant county administrator for public safety, said the county extended its earlier voluntary evacuation to a mandated order after the projected path of Irma veered to the west in more recent forecasts.
The county also recommended a voluntary evacuation for residents south of Fox Hollow Drive who live west of Little Road, but east of the parallel road that is named, at different points, as Regency Park Boulevard, Rowan Road and Seven Springs Boulevard. Guthrie asked those residents to wait until 6 p.m. Friday before evacuating.