Cooper shifts emergency focus to western NC as Hurricane Irma nears Florida

As Hurricane Irma continues to work its way through the Caribbean towards southern Florida, the National Weather Service in Raleigh now forecasts the storm to impact central North Carolina late Sunday or early Monday.

The NHC's forecast shows Irma has the potential to pass over western North Carolina, as well as western South Carolina, Alabama and northern Mississippi.

Construction sites will shut down and lane closures will reopen statewide as of 7 p.m. tonight (Friday) to aid traffic flow.

Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma on Wednesday.The National Hurricane Center is calling Irma "potentially catastrophic". The storm could also produce isolated tornadoes in the Carolinas early next week.

"Once the storm starts, law enforcement can not save you", Scott said at a news conference in Sarasota.

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The governor's statement said North Carolina's Emergency Management team was coordinating storm preparation efforts as early as Labor Day.

Forecasters expect the storm, currently packing sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, to follow a course east of I-75 and cross the Georgia-Tennessee border late Tuesday morning, but for now the eastern edge of the "cone of uncertainty" for Irma, the path the storm could take, runs from Gaffney, SC, to Johnson City, TN.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose has also become a major hurricane, reaching Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, but the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a sharp turn to the northeast, turning it away from the Atlantic Coast and towards Bermuda.

"We also remind everyone that weather conditions such as this can produce unsafe situations on roadways and sidewalks, and if conditions worsen, downed power lines and tree branches could occur", the alert said. "The forecasts are changing every hour it seems and residents need to be aware of where the storm is tracking".

As of this morning's reports, we still anticipate at least the possibility of getting 1-4 inches of rain (depending on the storm's actual pathway), so be sure to think about potential flooding as we go through the weekend and into next week. "Know your evacuation route and make a hurricane kit". "At this point, it is too early to tell what, if any, effects may occur as a result of Hurricane Irma".

  • Megan Austin