The U.S. National Hurricane Center's latest forecast projects Irma's potent eye could make multiple landfalls in Florida. Heed local emergency management officials' advice and make sure your family has an emergency plan and go over it with them.
Hurricane Irma had dropped to a Category 3 storm, with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour Saturday after passing over Cuba on a track towards Key West and the west coast of the Florida peninsula.
In its most recent update, the National Hurricane Center estimates WNC could experience 3 to 6 inches of rain as the storm passes through. Its expected track has largely remained the same.
Some projections expect it to reach Georgia and SC as a Category 1 storm by early next week, which could severely impact parts of North Carolina with heavy rains.
Hurricane Irma is still expected to hit Western North Carolina after making landfall in Florida this weekend.
Hurricane Irma now is a Category 5 storm, and its path remains hard to predict due to multiple climate factors.
Cooper also echoed today's Nation Weather Service warnings of severe rip currents and unsafe surf along the southeastern coast, including Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. These conditions are expected to last into the week of September 11-15.
DOT officials said they were also shifting resources west in part to keep I-26 flowing. Higher rainfall amounts are possible in western North Carolina where three to six inches of rain will be possible. "Also, some rivers could enter flood stage next week, such as the Contentnea Creek and the northeast Cape Fear River, and some other non-forecast points, as river levels for these streams are already above average".
"Based on the forecast we are looking at pre-staging some paramedic units, rescue-squad units, including water rescue units in certain areas we have identified as the most vulnerable", he said. A storm surge watch is in effect in Florida as well, north of Juniper inlet to Sebastian Inlet and north of Bonita Beach to Venice, Fla.
This huge hurricane is then forecast to move up the entire length of Florida peninsula Sunday.
The NHC's long range forecast for Jose calls for it to continue moving northwest, weakening back to a non-major hurricane sometime Saturday into early Sunday.