Residents and Visitors Keeping an Eye on Irma
By JOY CRIST
Irma has been making national headlines as it continues its slow track
westward towards the Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico. Upgraded to a
Category 5 storm on Tuesday morning, Irma appeared on track to connect
with Florida at some point in the next five days.
it is far too early to determine what – if any - effect this hurricane
may have on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, Irma nonetheless garnered
plenty of attention in local circles due to its sheer size and
yet-to-be-determined long term plans.
far as impacts to Eastern North Carolina, it’s still too early to
tell,” said Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather
Service Forecast Office in Newport/Morehead City, NC. “People should
still monitor the latest forecasts and always be prepared. If it does
affect us, it would probably be early next week.”
storm is expected to make a right turn at some point within the next
week or so, which will take it closer to the Mid-Atlantic States, but
it is not clear when that will occur.
the long-term path potentially extends from the Gulf States all the way
to Virginia and points north, and computer models are not accurate
beyond a five-day timeframe, which means that this tentative plan could
easily change again. “Later this week we should have a better idea,”
the Atlantic Ocean, only a small percentage of hurricanes reach
Category 5 status, which is the highest category on the Saffir-Simpson
Wind Scale. The most notable Category 5 storms in recent memory include
1989’s Hurricane Hugo, 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, and 2005’s Hurricane
October’s Hurricane Matthew, which eventually landed on the southern
Outer Banks as a post tropical cyclone, was the last Category 5 storm
to hit the Atlantic coastline. (It was also the first Category 5
Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007.) Though the strength of Matthew
had dissipated greatly by the time it reached North Carolina, it
nevertheless caused historic flooding in Hatteras village.
the memory of Matthew still fresh, locals and visitors are keeping a
keen eye on Hurricane Irma, regardless of its inevitable path.
though it is still much too early to determine if Irma should be a
local cause of concern, for many residents, it’s nevertheless a good
time to stay vigilant for Irma and any other future storms that may
arise in the next several months before hurricane season ends on
should continue to keep an eye on area rip current forecasts for the
next several days. While distant storms have a tendency to being swells
– and surfers – to the islands, they can also cause a higher risk for
rough surf and rip current conditions.
long period swells will begin to reach our coastal waters by tonight
from the storm’s locale in the Leeward Islands. Swells may increase in
strength throughout the week, and a high rip current risk is likely
through much of this period, with large surf bringing dangerous shore
have a moderate risk for rip currents out for today,” said Austin.
“That will probably be going to high in the next couple of days or so,
as the swells work their way up [the coast].”
This is typical for offshore hurricanes and storms, especially for a storm as powerful as Irma.
residents have also reported using the attention on Irma as an
opportunity to nail down additional storm prep actions. Checking
battery and flashlight supplies, testing generators, and checking
radios have all been common themes on social media and at local
conversations at hardware stores as Irma dominates the headlines.
will likely be a few more days before meteorologists have a clearer
idea of Irma’s intentions. Because of Irma’s strength, expect plenty of
coverage both locally and nationally in the days to come. People are
advised not to trust definitive models or paths more than five days
out, as this information is highly variable and very much subject to
change. In the meantime, folks should keep an eye on local rip current
forecasts and double check storm supplies, (such as batteries and
radios), as an extra step in being prepared for Irma or other potential
storms in the reminder of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season.