Published: 2017-09-04 05:51:00
Updated: 2018-07-13 14:05:54
Posted September 4, 2017 5:51 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:05 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The East Coast of the United States is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Irma on Monday as the Category 4 storm continues its trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean, but it's still too early to know exactly where it will land.
Irma continued to swirl out in the middle of the ocean on Monday with sustained winds of 140 mph. It was moving west southwest at 13 mph.
WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said it's possible the storm could be the second major hurricane to hit the United States as Texas and Louisiana continue to clean up from Hurricane Harvey. Forecast models show the storm could potentially move over Florida, but it is unclear how or if it will impact North Carolina.
"If it moves over Florida, it would move here early next week in a much weakened state," Maze said.
The latest forecast showed the storm tracking slightly further to the north but still predicted the eye of the storm would sweepacross the southern Bahamas and northern Cuba by Friday and into Saturday this week.
"It's still too early to tell and get into great detail past Saturday and Sunday," Maze said of predicting the storm's impact on the U.S. "It may lift north after Saturday and Sunday and perhaps head across Florida and maybe impact North Carolina."
Maze said the storm could likely become a Category 5 storm in the coming days, but could weaken as it makes it way towards the United States.
"If there's any interaction between Hispaniola and Cuba, the storm could weaken," he said.
While Irma continues to track west, though, it's still unclear when or if it would turn off its current path. If Irma impacts North Carolina, Maze said the effects could be felt as early as next Monday night.
"The forecast path of Irma could change. It's not set in stone," he said.
With uncertainty lingering, Department of Public Safety officials in North Carolina were preparing Monday night for the possibility that the storm could impact the state.
A spokesperson with the Department of Public Safety said they are holding conference calls about possible fuel disruption and disaster resources.
The department is in close contact with FEMA and employees are working on plans with emergency management officials in South Carolina and Virginia.