Though it is still too early to determine what, if any, direct impacts the North Carolina coast could see from Irma, Hatteras and Ocracoke Islanders are urged to make their preparations now, and watch for potentially dangerous surf and rip current conditions.
Long period swells from Irma are expected to lead to hazardous surf and strong rip currents beginning on Thursday, which will affect the eastern North Carolina beaches through early next week.
All residents should also ensure they have their hurricane plans in place. “Track confidence will grow over the next few days,” said Director of Dare County Emergency Management Drew Pearson in an emailed statement, “and you don’t want to be looking back wishing you had reviewed your plan and given thought to what you will need to have on hand should we end up facing direct impacts from a storm of unprecedented magnitude.”
Residents, homeowners, and visitors who have questions about re-entry information should an evacuation occur due to Irma or another future storm can obtain information on the Dare County’s website at https://www.darenc.com/departments/emergency-management/reentry. A reentry permit is not required for permanent residents, provided they have a valid NC driver’s license with a local address or a current Dare County property tax bill.
Governor Roy Cooper also declared a state of emergency for North Carolina which went into effect on 8 a.m. Thursday as a cautionary step ahead of Irma’s arrival. “To prepare for Hurricane Irma, I am declaring a state of emergency,” Cooper said. “The state is doing what we want the people of North Carolina to do, and that is prepare for Hurricane Irma.”
Hurricane Irma is expected to track towards southern Florida over the weekend, then along the East Coast of Florida into Monday. As of 8 a.m., the eye of Irma was moving west-northwestward off the coast of Hispaniola, and was heading towards the Turk and Caicos Islands. Maximum sustained winds remain near 180 mph (285 km/h) with higher gusts, with Irma maintaining its Category 5 strength. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km) from the center.
Visit www.weather.gov/mhx for weather forecast information covering Eastern NC, and visit the National Hurricane Center at www.nhc.noaa.gov for information on the tropics.
The Island Free Press will continue to monitor Irma and will post updates as soon as they are available