Thursday evening ‘long look’ toward how Irma may impact the US mainland

Category Five Hurricane Irma heads through the Turks and Caicos overnight and passes between (or ‘near’) Cuba and The Bahamas Friday. Some minor drop-off in strength is forecast, but the storm will remain a Category 4 or 5 until it makes the sharp right-hand, northbound turn toward South Florida Saturday night.

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast (pictured here) shows that expected sharp northward taking the center near Miami Sunday morning. That northerly trend takes the storm near Jacksonville early Monday and toward North Georgia, Northeast Alabama and East Tennessee Tuesday.  This is a shift in their track from earlier Thursday, and that of course, constitutes some change in the forecast here.

NHC Official Forecast

If you have beach plans in Northwest Florida (Panama City to Pensacola) or Alabama, the weather will not be greatly impacted by Irma. Cities like Tampa and Fort Myers still need to be on guard, but the greater threat may pass east of them.

Any travel to Florida’s east coast, South Carolina or even the beaches near Wilmington, North Carolina should be carefully considered in coming days.

Irma’s impact in Alabama? Words matter, so instead of using ‘impact’ for the weather in Alabama, let’s talk in terms of the ‘effect.’ We do not expect a major, destructive weather set up in Alabama or Tennessee as Irma makes landfall; however, the storm gets caught up in a trough over the region and pulled northwest across Georgia toward East Tennessee on Tuesday and Wednesday. This puts us on the ‘good’ side of the storm: no severe weather risk, just rainy, windy weather (especially over Northeast Alabama in the higher terrain).  As long as we stay on the WEST side of the circulation, we will not see much really rough weather.  Stay tuned!

Track Hurricane Irma with WHNT.com’s Interactive Radar or swipe over to the radar feature on Live Alert 19!

-Jason
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