By Jordan Root, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
September 5,2017, 11:37:10AM,EDT
As Major Hurricane Irma churns across the western Atlantic and towards the United States, residents along the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. should prepare now for potential impacts.Category 5 Hurricane Irma will blast the northern Caribbean with flooding rain, damaging winds and rough surf this week, bringing life-threatening conditions to the islands.
A similar scenario could play out somewhere along the Gulf or East coasts this weekend or next week, depending on where Irma tracks. Residents are urged to prepare now.
“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of Harvey,” Evan Myers, expert senior meteorologist and chief operating officer, said.
A landfall in Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas is all in the realm of possibilities. Irma could also head into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
If the storm takes a more southern route, which is the more likely scenario at this point, South Florida would start to be buffeted by Irma's rain and wind as early as this weekend.
If the storm tracks more to the south and west, the Florida Panhandle may be endanger of a direct strike early next week.
Another scenario still on the table is that Irma curve northward and miss the East Coast entirely. This would still generate large surf and rip currents along the East Coast. However, this scenario is the least likely to occur at this point.
On Monday afternoon, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida in anticipation of Irma. A state of emergency was also declared in Puerto Rico earlier in the day.
The exact path of Irma beyond the end of the week remains uncertain and will depend on a variety of moving parts in the atmosphere.
“A large area of high pressure across the central North Atlantic is helping to steer Irma,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
This feature will be the main driving force of Irma over the next few days. As the weekend approaches, other factors will come into play.
“The eastward or northeast progression of a non-tropical system pushing across the central and eastern U.S. this week will highly impact the long-range movement of Irma,” Kottlowski said.
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How fast or slow this non-tropical system moves will be an important factor on where Irma is steered this weekend into next week. The speed of this feature will determine when and how much Irma gets pulled northward or whether Irma continues on more of a westward track.
This amount of uncertainty means that the entire southern and eastern U.S. should monitor Irma this week. Residents along the coast are urged to start preparing and making sure plans are in place to deal with the worst case scenario. This includes plans on how to evacuate and what is important to bring with you and your family.
"As we saw just 10 days ago with Harvey, it is important to be ready to evacuate," Myers said. Be prepared with a list of items you would need to take if you had 30 minutes' notice or one hour's notice or six hours or a day to evacuate.
It's important to fill prescriptions ahead of time and gather important paperwork, such as insurance documentation, deeds, car bill of sales, etc., that you would bring with you. Make sure you know where you and your family pets will head in case of evacuation.
Cruise and shipping interests headed to the Bahamas and Caribbean will likely need to reroute to avoid the worst of Irma.
Due to Irma following so closely on Harvey's heels and since FEMA and other government resources will be strained, more preparation and storm aftermath may rest on individuals, Myers said. It may be crucial to evacuate ahead of the storm, so preparation is key.
If Irma were to make landfall as a Category 4 or 5 storm somewhere in the U.S., it would be in historical territory.
"The U.S. has not sustained a direct hit from two Category 4 or above hurricanes in more than 100 years,” Myers said.
Keep checking back to AccuWeather for updates on the status of Irma and where it may track in the days ahead.
Mari Manderson ·
Praying for Texas and for our Southeastern states; I'm in Mobile, AL. I pray this storm does not hit Mobile; however, the best thing would be for it to take a sharp turn and go back out into the ocean and slowly dissipate. Praying for everyone's safety.
Terrance Betts ·
Lord we come to you today and ask that you redirect this hurricane path, so that it doesn't effect anyone; keep us safe and out of it's destructive way in Jesus name!!! (Amen)Please lord hear my prayer for all !
Carol Jean Janvrin ·
Be pro active. The Mississippi River flood in Northern Illinois & Iowa back in 1965 caused much damage. Was considered a 100 year flood. Although not the same as a hurricane, we had a strong current back of us, and 14 inches of water on our main floor. There was no flood insurance back then, but we moved everything upstairs that we could. Our piano went to a family living on higher ground.
Trenna Furlong ·
Well I live in ga and this will be my first major hurricane. And I want to be prepared no joking about it . Please pray that God will take control and make it go back out to ocean . I don't want to lose everything I have and certainly don't want to die .
Matthew Powell ·
Even though us Texas are dealing with our own hurricane problem at the moment we will be headed to any state that gets hit by irma and lending a helping hand.
Kevin Mark Snodgrass ·
Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane upon landfall, however. Even though Wilma reached category 5 status and had the lowest MB pressure on record at 882MB and a period of maximum sustained winds of 185mph, it made landfall with the U.S. as a category 3 and the category 2 across Florida. Accordingly, also, Hurricane Rita also reached Category 5 status and reached a small period of maximum sustained winds of 180mph, however, when it made landfall in Lousiana and Texas, it was a category 3 at 115 mph and it rapidly lost it's strength.