With all the awful news coming out of Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey's devastation, the prospect of another intense storm is really scaring people. It's no wonder that many are following every report about Hurricane Irma with hawklike focus, hoping to protect themselves as best as possible. Florida residents are already preparing for landfall, but will Irma hit the Carolinas, too? It's impossible to tell yet just what path the Category 5 storm will take, but it's never too early to start thinking about how to stay safe — just in case.
As the nation grapples with the fallout from Harvey, another terrifying storm is the last thing anyone needs. But ready or not, here Irma comes. The National Hurricane Center calls the storm "potentially catastrophic," and a quick look at satellite images of Irma shows just why people are rushing to the grocery store to stock up on bottled water.
First up, it seems likely that the storm will batter the Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, on Wednesday. Predictions for how it will affect the U.S. mainland are harder to come by though, at this point, although some Florida residents are preparing for a mandatory evacuation in some areas. Hurricanes can change quickly, and it's difficult to predict the exact path of a storm.
Still, at least one model does have Irma hitting the Carolinas.
According to News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges in Orlando:
The American models take it to the Carolinas by next Sunday (Sept. 10). The European models have it going to Cuba and possibly threatening South Florida. It's just too early to tell.
However, considering how the trajectory has changed, and a final path is really still up in the air. Right now, the graphic on the NHC's website shows a forecast cone of Irma that doesn't get anywhere near the Carolinas, although the graphic does note that "hazardous conditions can appear outside of the cone."
So all that is to say that, while it would be really, really nice to be able to predict how badly you might be affected by this hurricane, there's no real certainty one way or the other right now as to what Irma will become. Still, if you're in the Carolinas, it definitely can't hurt to think about an evacuation plan. It also might be a good idea to buy some bottled water before the grocery stores all sell out.
And make sure you keep an eye on the forecasts over the next few days. In scary times like these, it's best to be prepared.