By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 10,2017, 9:17:56AM,EDT
After unleashing life-threatening conditions across Florida, Irma will make a beeline for the Southeast early this week, leading to severe flooding problems from Georgia and Alabama to South Carolina and Tennessee.Given Irma's expected track along the west coast of the Florida Peninsula, the threat of a direct landfall between Georgia and the Carolinas has passed. However, impacts will still be devastating in parts of the Southeast.
Rain and tropical-storm-force winds will pick up in Georgia and South Carolina as early as late Sunday.
Wet and windy weather will expand into eastern Alabama, including Birmingham, southeastern North Carolina and the southern Appalachians on Monday into Tuesday.
Lengthy power outages, flooding and major delays and disruptions are possible in these areas.
Despite Irma tracking along the west coast of Florida, water will still surge toward the Georgia, South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina coasts, threatening to cause coastal flooding in places such as Savannah, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
These locations will also be on the northeastern side of the storm, heightening the risk of waterspouts and tornadoes.
Wind gusts between 60 and 80 mph across Georgia will easily be enough to snap trees and power lines. In southern Georgia, winds could gust up to 100 mph.
Gusts of 40 to 60 mph in South Carolina will lead to damage to weaker trees and some power lines. Residents or those who have evacuated from Florida to these areas should prepare for possible power outages.
Irma will continue to move to the north and west early next week, dissipating to a tropical depression and eventually a tropical rainstorm over Georgia and Tennessee.
While widespread damaging winds will become less of a concern farther inland, the threat for flooding will mount as Irma's rain expands.
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Heavy rain is forecast to spread inland toward the southern Appalachians from Monday to Tuesday, potentially leading to extensive flooding due to the mountainous and hilly terrain of northeastern Georgia, western South Carolina, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.
There is concern for serious flooding problems across Georgia and the Carolinas from Irma, according to Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather.
Mudslides and road washouts will be possible. Small streams and rivers could overflow out of their banks and flood neighboring land and homes. At the very least, disruptions to travel and outdoor plans will occur.
Atlanta; Columbia, South Carolina; and Knoxville, Tennessee, could endure wind gusts to tropical storm strength in addition to the rainfall. Sporadic power outages can occur as the soil becomes saturated, making it easier for the wind to topple trees and powerlines.
Irma's rain will spread inland toward western Tennessee, Kentucky and northern Mississippi on Tuesday.
The amount of rain that falls will lessen significantly beyond the Southeast as Irma runs into a large area of dry air over the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes and Northeast. Flooding will become more of a concern on the local level.
Still, locations such as Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Cincinnati; Charleston, West Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Philadelphia, should anticipate wet, dreary and cool conditions around Tuesday and Wednesday. Travel disruptions can mount during this time.