Weather

Hurricane Irene's route not set in stone

Posted August 22, 2011

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— North Carolina emergency management officials were updating hurricanes plans on Monday in preparation for the possible effects of Hurricane Irene, which could become a Category 3 storm before some forecast models show it clipping the state on Saturday. 

State emergency officials were checking "pre-landfall operations" to make sure equipment such as trucks, forklifts, generators and computers were working, said Ernie Seneca, spokesman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Also, they were taking inventory of food and water supplies "in case it comes to that point where we have to provide that to people who suffer losses or have to be evacuated," he said.

Hurricane and flags WRAL Hurricane Center with interactive tracker

“We are too far out to really look at the prediction with very much reliability," said Mike Sprayberry, deputy director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. "We are trying to make a plan for anything at this point.”

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that Irene has maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was moving about 10 mph. It was upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Monday evening.

The storm could grow into a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 115 mph, over the Bahamas on Thursday. It might carry that force northwest along Florida's Atlantic coast and toward a possible strike on South Carolina, though the forecasters warned that, by the weekend, the storm's path could vary significantly from the current projection.

If it hits North Carolina, Sprayberry said, severe winds, riverine flooding or a coastal storm surge are likely.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said while the potential for the storm to affect North Carolina is there, there is no need to panic.

"It could stay off shore and never make landfall, that is a distinct possibility," Fishel said. "There is still so much uncertainty that to hang your hat on one solution is simply ridiculous at this point in time." 

Irene cut power to more than a million people in Puerto Rico, downing trees and flooding streets on Monday. 

Mike Sprayberry NC gears up for possible Irene hit

The strengthening storm was headed for Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Nearly 600,000 people in Haiti still live without shelter after last year's earthquake. The center of the hurricane was expected to miss Haiti. 

The hurricane is expected to pass near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Tuesday.

Irene is the first hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The last storm to make landfall in North Carolina was Hurricane Isabel, which killed 33 people and caused $1.6 billion in damage in September 2003. Other recent storms have caused significant damage in North Carolina, including Frances and Ivan, which tracked through western North Carolina in 2004, causing mudslides and an estimated $44 million in damages. Other recent storms that left a lasting impression on the state include Fran in 1996, Floyd in 1999 and Hugo in 1989, which made landfall in Isle of Palms, S.C., and tracked through Charlotte.

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  • naomisimms67 Aug 23, 2011

    ANIMALS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE ALSO!!!! TO SAFE PLACE OUT WEST UNTILL IT IS SAFE TO COME BACK!!!! DON'T GASS THEM LIKE THE SHELTERS IN NC,AND SC DO EVERY DAY.THATS MURDER!!! IF THATS THE CASE JUST START GASSING PEOPLE TO SAVE MONEY ON RESCUES.

  • naomisimms67 Aug 23, 2011

    I would like to know what are all the shelter in NC,and SC going to do with all the poor animals in the shelters? Do they plan on killing them ALL off before the hurricane hits? OR; are they going toact like e realy human and transport them to shelters out west to be safe untill it's over and safe to come back. I will keep a eye on this and will report it to CNN, 20/20, and world news tonight on the effects of animal abuse.

  • fayncmike Aug 23, 2011

    "I'd like to see the documentation where they recorded 131 mph winds when Fran came through. The max wind gust at RDU was 74 mph and I seriously doubt that it gusted to 131 anywhere inland. I was here for Fran and I know that the winds never reached that velocity.
    rescuefan"

    It's SOP to wildly exaggerate all weather conditions. It's ALWAYS the hottest, coldest, wettest, driest, windiest and so on and so forth. These deliberate lies are designed to keep people glued to their TVs and radios for the sake of the sponsors.

  • chilipeppernc Aug 22, 2011

    A hurricane's path "not set in stone". SERIOUSLY???? When IS anything weather related (besides sunrise, sunset and the moon phase) EVER "set in stone".

  • anne53ozzy Aug 22, 2011

    The area (Triangle) was very wet in 1996 when Fran came inland. The devastation was terrible but the ground conditions are very different today as it is so dry. I think the winds were around 70 mph w that storm when it came to this area, not to say gusts were not greater.

  • rescuefan Aug 22, 2011

    "Another thing is when a hurricane makes landfall and encounters mountainous or hilly torain the upper level winds strenghten before it weakens and thats why they clocked 131 mph winds on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill when they were 115 mph at the beach. I would had rather been at the beach then here in OC. I been cutting trees for 15 yrs from Frans damage.
    luckys313"

    I'd like to see the documentation where they recorded 131 mph winds when Fran came through. The max wind gust at RDU was 74 mph and I seriously doubt that it gusted to 131 anywhere inland. I was here for Fran and I know that the winds never reached that velocity.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Aug 22, 2011

    I remember Fran very well, especially after the trees landed on my vehicle and house, and we spent 1/2 the night bailing water out the front door into a deluge of rain! While I'm not panicky, I will keep a close eye on what's happening and do what I need to do.

  • luckys313 Aug 22, 2011

    For those of you thinking your to far inland think again.Fran rolled right through my front yard up here in Orange County and unlike the coast we are heavily wooded and it made a mess like ive never seen and Ive spent 24 yrs in Mn and WI blizzards and tornado alley. Theres nothing like having 120 mph winds turning every branch and tree into projectiles.Another thing is when a hurricane makes landfall and encounters mountainous or hilly torain the upper level winds strenghten before it weakens and thats why they clocked 131 mph winds on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill when they were 115 mph at the beach. I would had rather been at the beach then here in OC. I been cutting trees for 15 yrs from Frans damage.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Aug 22, 2011

    I don't intend to panic. But I will stay tuned and do what I need to do when I need to.

  • Made In USA Aug 22, 2011

    FYI - WRAL.com has the BEST weather coverage of ANY local news station in NC. Period. Undisputable.

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