MIAMI —  The impact of Hurricane Irma on New Jersey remains unclear as the Category 5 storm continues a westward path.

Satellite view of Hurricane Irma on Tuesday morning (NHC)

With winds of 180 mph, Irma is the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center. It's currently forecast to take immediate aim at the northeastern Leeward Island on Tuesday and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

The storm could dump up to 12 inches of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center. Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.

The National Hurricane Center said that its increasingly likely Irma will have a direct impact on the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula, but it's too soon to tell the timing and magnitude. It's also too early to determine its impact on the continental United States.

Irma's track began a more southward track on Monday, which chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow said was good news for New Jersey.

"Let's hold the celebration for now. There's still plenty of time for this forecast to change again," Zarrow said.

He's continuing to issue updates through his Facebook page as the storm gets closer:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday for the state's 67 counties to give local governments "ample time, resources and flexibility" to prepare.

The NHC urged everyone in hurricane-prone areas to prepare a hurricane plan now.

NJ Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Connolly said the first thing to do is get together with your family and just start the conversation about preparedness.

The very basics of preparing for a storm include, according

  • Three days' supply of canned, non-perishable, ready-to-eat food
  • Three days' supply of water (a total of three gallons per family member)
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • One week's prescription medications
  • First aid kit
  • Personal toiletries
  • Non-electric can openers and utensil
  • INfant care items
  • Items for elderly family membersItems for relatives with disabilities
  • Cash or travelers checks
  • Store important documents in a waterproof, safe location
  • Keep your vehicle's gas level at a minimum of half-a-tank.
  • Every family member must carry contact information:
  • All phone numbers at work, school, etc. for every family member
  • The name and number of a relative who lives out-of-state, to call in case your family gets separated.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

More from New Jersey 101.5: