North Carolina prepares for Hurricane Irma

Credit: Courtesy of NOAA

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma, which is predicted to reach the state as early as Monday or Tuesday. 

“There is a lot we still don’t know about this storm, but we do know that North Carolina can expect to feel some sort of effects as soon as early next week, and now is the time to get prepared," Cooper said in a statement.

The state of emergency went into effect 8 a.m. Thursday. The governor’s statement said North Carolina’s Emergency Management team was coordinating storm preparation efforts as early as Labor Day. 

“Our emergency response teams are seasoned and ready. They have been tested repeatedly over the past year, and our colleagues are ready to respond as called,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said in a statement. “But we cannot weather this storm alone.”

UNC issued an Alert Carolina message Thursday evening encouraging students to stay tuned for condition changes in university operations, although no disruptions are expected at this time.

“We also remind everyone that weather conditions such as this can produce dangerous situations on roadways and sidewalks, and if conditions worsen, downed power lines and tree branches could occur,” the alert said. “Be cautious of flooded walkways and roadways, and do not approach downed power lines.”

The most recent briefing on Hurricane Irma was published by the National Weather Service at 5 p.m. Thursday and describes moderate-to-high confidence in impact for the central part of the state.

While tracking information is still not set, it is getting clearer as it describes landfall over Georgia and the Carolinas.

"Wherever you live in North Carolina – from the mountains to the Piedmont to the coast – you need to take this storm seriously, and you need to start preparing for some type of impact,” Cooper said.

Tropical storm level winds are expected in the state starting Monday morning, but it is still unclear as to whether hurricane force winds will reach North Carolina. 

Strong winds resulting in power outages, several inches of rain and flooding and an increased threat of tornadoes are all possible in the first part of next week, according to the briefing.

“This is a tremendous storm,” Hooks said. “We need residents and visitors to ensure they are ready: check your emergency plans, restock your emergency kits and pay close attention in the coming days to the weather forecast.” 

Individuals not in an evacuation zone are encouraged by the National Weather Service to prepare an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, batteries, non-perishable foods, water and first-aid supplies.

During a hurricane, remain in a secure, indoor area, and rely on weather services and local government to stay informed. 

Hurricane Irma’s top sustained winds on Thursday at 5 p.m. were 175 mph, keeping it classified as a category five as it heads toward Florida. 

Irma made landfall in the Caribbean on Wednesday, causing significant damage on several islands and leaving half of Puerto Rico without power.

The two other storm systems in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia, are both category one and not expected to affect the U.S. at this time. 

More resources for information and preparation can be found at and current weather updates are available at 

You can follow NOAA’s National Weather Service on twitter @NWS and the local office @NWSRaleigh.

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