Irma's path becomes clearer, impact expected in central NC

The National Guard will post emergency crews in Greensboro, Asheville and Charlotte on Sunday, according to Cooper.

Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma on Wednesday.The National Hurricane Center is calling Irma "potentially catastrophic".

"This is a deadly storm and our state has never seen anything like it", Scott said. He said residents should keep up with the latest developments through local news and the county's social media sites.

State Emergency Management officials are shifting staff from eastern areas to support the western parts of the state and working with hydrologists to identify possible trouble spots for flooding and landslides in mountain counties.

The hurricane was downgraded to a Category 4 overnight Friday, but is expected to restrengthen, possibly back to a Category 5, as it nears the southern tip of Florida, where it is due to make landfall early Sunday morning. But the latest track of the storm shows it moving westward, which could lessen the impact Irma would have on WNC.

In its most recent update, the National Hurricane Center estimates WNC could experience 3 to 6 inches of rain as the storm passes through. Also, hurricane force winds will reach Miami and surrounding areas as early as Saturday night.

"Once it gets over land, it will weaken quite a bit wind-wise", Fishel said, "but Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee will still get quite a bit of rain before it's all over".

"We're continuing to take preparing for this storm seriously, and we're tracking forecasts closely", Cooper said. Everyone should continue to monitor the storm through the weekend for any changes to the forecast.

"They were rescuing lives from Lumberton all the way up to the Virginia line and everywhere in between", Thomas said. The heaviest rainfall is expected early Tuesday morning. Several inches of rain and inland flooding are possible.

"Western Carolina University Emergency Services has been monitoring Hurricane Irma and its potential impact on the university", WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar said in a statement Thursday.

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.

  • Joey Payne