What To Expect From Irma In The Charlotte Area

Sep 11, 2017

Updated 2:58 p.m. 9/11/2017

Charlotte will be spared from the brunt of Hurricane Irma, but the area will still likely get rain and wind as the storm moves farther west over Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Over the next two days, it will be windy and rainy. The National Weather Service is forecasting 2-4 inches of rain starting Monday afternoon through Tuesday. And it predicts sustained winds around 25-35 mph.

Meteorologist Lauren Carroll in the Greenville-Spartanburg NWS office said the storm has roughly doubled in size now that it’s over land and high winds will be felt as much as 400 miles away from the center.

“What happens is it gets a lot larger on one side and it gets a lot smaller on the other,” said Carroll, “Unfortunately we just happen to be on the larger side at this point. If we were on the western side of the storm we wouldn’t be getting nearly as many impacts as we are on the eastern side of the storm.”

Carroll says some wind gusts could be as high as 50 mph.

The remnants of Irma are beginning to effect operations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Southwest Airlines is suspending flights until 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The storm is expected to remain over Georgia for most of the Monday and move into Alabama before dissipating over Tennessee by Wednesday. 

WCNC-TV Meteorologist Brad Panovich said on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks, Charlotte will still likely get rain and wind because effects can be felt hundreds of miles from the center of the storm.  

“One of the things that I’ve noticed with this storm is an obsession with where the center line of the track is,” he said.

While the storm seemed to change direction quite a bit, Panovich said the National Hurricane Center forecasts were pretty accurate.

“The thing about Florida, is it’s such a narrow state, so subtle changes in that shift brought the center 50 miles further west than 50 miles further east is the difference between being on shore and in the middle of the state,” Panovich said. “Those subtle changes were just kind of exaggerated because of the geography of Florida.”

The NWS forecasts the storm is expected dissipate as it’s absorbed by a cold front coming down from the Northwest. That could bring some more rain late next week. When it comes to Hurricane Jose, the NWS said is a bit too early to know what weather the storm could bring.  As of, Monday morning the storm was about 400 miles off the coast of the Turks and Caicos. 

If the current forecasts hold, most of North Carolina will not get a direct hit from now Tropical Storm Irma. But, this morning North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to remain prepared for high winds and rain. "We're grateful that the brunt of the storm appears to be missing us. But our entire state will see some effects from Irma. Especially in Western North Carolina. Things are looking better for us but we're not out of the woods yet. And we don’t want any surprises."

South Carolina 

National Weather Service forecaster John Quagliariello said the rain in combination with high tide is causing flooding in parts of the Lowcountry. He said parts of downtown Charleston are badly flooded.

“The tide gauge in Charleston Harbor has already surpassed Hurricane Matthew levels and is at its third highest level on record and still rising as of 2 o’clock,” he said.

The National Weather Service forecasts Tropical Storm Irma could produce 3-6 inches of rain and bring wind gusts up to 60 miles-per-hour.

He said there is concern about tornadoes until about early evening.

South Carolina Department of Transportation reports there are at least 80 road closures in seven different counties due to flooding and downed trees.

McMaster said there are 25 county governments closed today and 33 counties with school closures. He said there are 25 shelters with a more than 880 evacuees. McMaster emphasized shelter capacity is 13,000 and he welcomed evacuees from other states. 

McMaster said decisions about re-entry from evacuated areas in the southern most coastal counties and barrier islands have not yet been made. There are law enforcement patrolling those islands. 

South Carolina Electric and Gas reported more than 125,000 power outages as of 2:45 p.m. McMaster said crews are out working to get power restored.

Resources: 

National Weather Service forecast: forecast.weather.gov 

Road Conditions: tims.ncdot.gov