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Cooper shifts emergency focus to western NC as Hurricane Irma nears Florida

10 September 2017

The heaviest rainfall is expected early Tuesday morning. McDowell County Emergency Services Director William Kehler said his agency has been reviewing preparedness items, communicating with partner agencies, communicating with critical healthcare facilities and reviewing documentation from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2004.

"Make sure you are ready for whatever Irma brings", Cooper said. "As always with any high impact weather event, our first priority is to protect life and ensure the safety of emergency personnel".

The 2 p.m. advisory continues to show similar tracks for the major storms, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose. Risky surf and rip currents will continue through the next several days along the entire coast. Scattered power outages are possible anywhere across the state Monday and Tuesday.

Cooper says that while Hurricane Irma is projected to travel west of the state, it will still bring heavy rains and wind, particularly in the mountains and along the border with SC.

Initial plans called for opening staging areas across the state, but now only centers in Greensboro and Asheville are planned.

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference Saturday morning that he is shifting emergency resources to the western part of the state but cautioned others to stay alert.

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Hurricane Irma now is a Category 5 storm, and its path remains hard to predict due to multiple climate factors.

Cooper also advised for people to be mindful at the gas pump, saying only to take what you need.

"Tampa is very, very, very vulnerable to this type of storm", Fishel said.

NOAA forecast for Hurricane Irma's track as of 11 a.m. Friday. The eye of the storm was expected to head up the state's west coast, rather than the middle. Then later, after moving over water, Irma is expected to come ashore around Cape Coral or Fort Myers. But before the storm reaches the peninsula, the Florida Keys will experience its full force.

By the time the once-monster storm makes its way far enough north for North Carolina to feel any effects, it will have weakened a long way from the Category 3 that threatens landfall along the west coast of Florida Sunday. From there it is predicted to steam inland Sunday afternoon over the highly populated Tampa Bay region.

Cooper shifts emergency focus to western NC as Hurricane Irma nears Florida