Five Things To Know As Hurricane Irma Approaches The Carolinas
Updated 1:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8
The latest forecast for Hurricane Irma has the storm's path shifting west of the Charlotte area. Meterologist Steve Wilkinson with the National Weather Service says the Charlotte region should still expect strong winds, several inches of rain, and possibly tornadoes. “You would have less of the wind around the core of the storm but you may get some of the banding on the right side of the storm which can be very, very heavy rainfall,” says Wilkinson.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said mid-day Friday he's keeping the state of emergency declaration in effect.
"We're not yet in the clear," Cooper said, "and this is such a large storm that even a glancing blow could be a powerful one."
The state is going ahead with emergency preparations setting up staging areas in Greensboro and Asheville. These will be temporary headquarters where supplies, first responders, and mobilized national guard units gather. NCDOT is stopping all road work as of 7:00 p.m. Friday to keep the roadways clear as evacuees move north.
With this in mind here are some things to watch for.
1. Watch out for flash floods in areas that are prone to them, but don't expect the long-term type of flooding that Hurricane Matthew brought to the Carolinas – warns the National Weather Service.
2. Strong winds could bring down a lot of Charlotte's trees. "We're seeing a high number of trees falling in regular thunderstorms, I'm very concerned about what may happen during an event like this," says City Arborist Tim Porter. He says the city is making sure chain saws are sharpened and equipment fueled up to get ready for any clean up.
3. Electric utilities are preparing for the possibility of widespread power outages. Duke Energy isn't doing any extra tree trimming before the storm. The utility says it's getting resources ready to deal with clean up, making sure line technicians and support personnel are in a position to respond.
4. Traffic along highways in North and South Carolina will be busy this weekend as people evacuate from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster says he's considering evacuation orders for parts of South Carolina as Hurricane Irma gets closer. He says he'll make the decision later day. Charlotte Motor Speedway is opening its Rock City campground to hurricane evacuees.
5. Many farmers are in a rush. Irma falls at harvest time for corn and peanuts, and many farmers are hurrying to bring those crops in before the rains begin.
As Hurricane Irma moves north with possible effects on the Carolinas, WFAE has compiled this information to help you prepare. For the most up-to-date information for your specific location install these apps from FEMA and ReadyNC on your mobile phones.
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Red Cross shelter map
Click here for a print version of the North Carolina evacuation map.
Click here for a print version of the South Carolina Evacuation map.