(CN) - A hurricane watch was issued for South Florida Thursday afternoon as the southeastern United States braces for the arrival of the most powerful Atlantic storm in recorded history.
In preparation, Georgia's governor on Thursday ordered a mandatory evacuation of coastal communities, including the city of Savannah, and South Carolina's governor has announced a mandatory evacuation of the coast will go into effect Saturday morning.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also issued a statewide emergency declaration Thursday and told people to be prepared statewide even though projections suggest the storm could be much weaker by next week.
Cooper said tropical storms can be very dangerous, and "this storm can impact any part of North Carolina — all over our state from the mountains to the coast."
Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm with sustained 175-mph winds and more powerful gusts , has already killed at least 10 people in the Caribbean.
It is currently on track to make landfall in the U.S. on Sunday, somewhere between the Florida Keys and the Jupiter Inlet, and then to travel north over the length of the Florida peninsula, before crossing back over the Atlantic near Jacksonville, Florida.
It is currently forecast to come back onshore somewhere near Charleston, South Carolina and then head into North Carolina.
Speaking to reporters in the White House Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he is "very concerned" about Irma, saying that while it is not forecast to dump as much rain as Hurricane Harvey did over Houston, the winds of the current storm could be "devastating."
"I spoke to [Florida] Gov. Rick Scott on numerous occasions and they are very well prepared, but the amount of wind that's coming in ... we don't think we've seen anything quite like this. Some of the winds have gotten up to close to 200 miles an hour."
Trump went on to say that "We have pretty good accuracy as to path. Unfortunately we'll be knowing pretty soon. Hopefully we'll have some good news. That's what we're waiting for is good news."
In Florida, mandatory evacuations have been issued for the Keys and low-lying parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but Gov. Scott said others in Florida need to watch Irma's path and be ready to move.
“The size of this storm is wider than our entire state and could cause dangerous and life threatening impacts coast to coast," Scott said Thursday at a news conference Thursday morning. “Regardless of what coast you live on be prepared to evacuate.”
“Remember Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida,” he continued. “This is much worse and more devastating on its current path.”
"Regardless of which (Florida) coast you live on, this is not a storm you can sit and wait through ... You don't have to drive hundreds of miles or leave the state to be safe. Go to shelters," Scott said.
Officials in Pinellas County – on the west side the state -- have mandated all coastal residents and those living in mobile homes to evacuate. Other counties on both sides of the state have voluntary evacuation orders as of Thursday afternoon.
In addition to the mandatory evacuations, millions of Floridians made their own decision to head north Wednesday and Thursday, causing massive gridlock along the state’s major arteries.