Will Hurricane Irma Hit North Carolina? The Storm Will Have At Least Some Effect

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Those who have spent time in one of the states on the East Coast know that it's always prudent to be on hurricane watch, just in case one comes your way. And considering the size of the latest storm heading toward the United States, people are now wondering if Hurricane Irma will hit North Carolina. While the monster storm is still too far out to say anything for sure, North Carolinians can definitely expect some rain — and several of Irma's potential paths could see the storm barreling over some area of the state.

The problem with tracking hurricanes is that the weather can only be accurately predicted a few days out. Even while Hurricane Irma is making landfall in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, there are still numerous potential paths it could take over the weekend and beyond.

While it's looking more and more likely that Florida will take a direct hit from Irma, it's still unclear what's in store for Georgia and the Carolinas. Some maps indicate that Irma could turn northwards at just the right angle to sweep all the way up the East Coast to North Carolina. While Irma is expected to weaken as it moves north, given its strength now, North Carolinians could still potentially be met with the force of a Category 3 storm.

The latest tracking models of Irma seem to show three basic options of where the storm could go, all of which include a turn to the north. The ideal case would be a sharp turn to the north before it hits Florida, but that's seeming less likely. The other extreme would be a path across Cuba and a turn north up toward the Florida panhandle. The majority of the paths, however, follow some variety of the middle path, which would take up Florida and toward the Carolinas.

Interestingly, the current models show Irma avoiding the Carolina coast and instead coming into the state in the central Piedmont region or even in western North Carolina. This could make it similar to the very memorable Hurricane Fran in 1996, which knocked out roofs and power lines across the central region of the state. Irma could also lose strength if it remains over land for a significant period before hitting North Carolina, in which case the state would likely only face heavy rain.

Unfortunately, the best news for Florida would be the worst case scenario for the Carolinas. Irma could turn north before Florida and then head up the coast, making landfall as a Category 5 storm in the area of Myrtle Beach or Emerald Isle and then heading north directly across North Carolina.

Still, the best that residents of North Carolina can do now is prepare hurricane kits and find a safe place to evacuate to if it looks like that will become necessary. After all, a little extra preparation never hurt anyone — but catastrophic Category 5 storms certainly do.