(KMSP) - It's possible Hurricane Irma could affect the Florida Keys as soon as this Saturday, and millions are in its path, including Minnesotans who are in the region.
Governor Rick Scott warned this is a massive storm and that tourists were ordered out earlier today. A mandatory evacuation for all residents takes effect tonight as we're already getting a sign of what's on the way.
Irma struck the island of Barbuda today, giving the world a slight view of its initial blast.
"Storm surge and extreme winds are the biggest concern right now,” Scott said. “The storm is bigger, faster and stronger than Hurricane Andrew."
The mandatory evacuation takes place across the Florida Keys Wednesday night. But in the rest of the state, residents are stocking up.
Minneapolis resident Sue Tighe is staying with her mother in Cape Coral where she noted empty shelves at a local grocery store.
Members of the 257th military police company with the Minnesota National Guard are currently on deployment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A guard spokesman said all 120 members are sheltering in place, as the Navy expects the storm to strike the base within 48 hours.
In the meantime, in Puerto Rico, Minnesotan Brett Harttman expects to start feeling the storm tonight.
"Everyone's been stocking up - getting water, food, beer. I guess you see some people boarding up, some not…definitely more on the northern end preparing more than the southern end," Harttman said.
Gov. Scott is already talking with the National Guard Bureau for the possible deployment of up to 30,000 troops for disaster relief, should they be needed.