Irma now a Category 3 hurricane and gaining strength

Huricane Irma on satellite. (WPEC)

The next big weather disaster could be right around the corner as Hurricane Irma gains strength and may intensify to a Category 4 storm over the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Irma to a Category 3 churning just south and east of the Caribbean islands with 120 mph winds. Only hours before, Irma had been downgraded to a Category 2 tropical storm.

Although it is too early to tell what path Hurricane Irma will take, residents in Florida and along the southern Atlantic coast are being encouraged to make sure they have their basic hurricane supplies ready by the middle of next week in case Florida ends up in Irma’s path.

Waiting until the last-minute can backfire, because often stores run out of supplies during days leading up to the storm.

Anyone living in an area regularly in the path of tropical storms should have basic supplies on hand during hurricane season like water, canned goods, batteries, and flashlights.

Experts say within the next five days, those who may be in Irma's path should be sure to stock up on basic emergency kit items.

WPEC staff and WPDE's First Warning Weather Team contributed to this report.

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