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2017 Tropical Update Blog -- Irma is a strong Category 4 hurricane

Hurricane Irma - Latest Track

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9-8-17 FRIDAY 2PM

Ed Piotrowski - ed@wpde.com

HURRICANE IRMA

For our area, the news has been nothing but good over the last 24 hours. Now that we're less than two days from Irma's turn north, the models are more reliable and ALL continue to show it traversing the entire state of Florida. A track over that much land will weaken Irma quickly compared to much slower weakening if it stayed over water and was battling wind shear and dry air. The chances of that happening go down with every model run. In addition to moving north over land, an area of low pressure along the Gulf coast will actually pull Irma back to the northwest through Georgia keeping most of the big impacts well southwest of us. Irma is a very large storm and there will be impacts in our area. Here's what to expect Sunday night through Monday night. Conditions improve Tuesday morning.

WIND: Expect wind gusts in the 30s and 40s with an isolated gust near 50 mph over our southern counties. Wind of this magnitude typically doesn't produce more than isolated power outages and only knocks down some loose tree limbs or weak trees. We get stronger wind in thunderstorms. For reference, Matthew's winds gusted in the 60-70 mph range inland and near 75 mph at the coast.

RAIN: Bands of rain will rotate around Irma producing periods of heavy downpours. In some of the heavier bands, 2-4" of rain will be possible with isolated amounts near 5" not out of the question. The ground is saturated in many area so it's not out of the question we could see localized, minor flooding, but for most of the area that is unlikely. We are NOT expecting anything like what we had with Matthew lat year.

TORNADOES: Anytime you are on the right side of the storm, there is a small risk of tornadoes. They are usually isolated and brief, but still can cause damage.

COASTAL IMPACTS: Even though Irma will be far from us, some storm surge is likely. Most areas will see a 1-3 foot rise in water. That's 1-3 feet lower than what Matthew produced last year. We do have king tides and the wind will be stiff off the ocean so some coastal flooding is possible in the typical areas of Cherry Grove, Garden City, Murrells Inlet, & Pawleys Island around high tides Sunday and Monday.

Upcoming High Tide

SAT: 10:07am, 10:35pm

SUN: 10:58am, 11:30pm

MON: 11:56am, 11:59pm

With 3-5 foot waves and rough surf generated by Irma, there is a high risk of rip current now through Monday. Some minor beach erosion is also possible, especially in those areas where the dunes were destroyed by Matthew.

All in all, I'm very much encouraged by the trends, but you know me. I won't let my guard down until Irma does EXACTLY what it's forecast to do. Right now, my confidence is very high impact will be low here, but rest assured, I'll be working through the weekend to keep you updated.

What should you do now? I'd be overly cautious and stay in a holding pattern. Don't pack your supplies away quite yet and monitor my updates for any changes. If things don't change, there will not be an evacuation ordered.

I know this has been an exhaustive time for all of us. Thanks for your patience and understanding!

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