Major Cat 5 Irma continues toward Florida, Carolinas too? - FOX Carolina 21

Major Cat 5 Irma continues toward Florida, Carolinas too?

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Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane, is forecast to maintain major hurricane status into the coming weekend. Right now it is packing winds at 185 mph maximum sustained near the center.

There are still a few factors that will dictate its track, and whether that track will have a direct impact along the east coast. 

One uncertainty is how deep a trough of low pressure digs through the end of the week and how quickly it lifts to the northeast toward New England.

If the trough lifts out quickly, it would miss its chance to help steer Irma up along the east coast. That would mean good news for the Carolina coast, but not so good news for the midlands and the Upstate.

That would be incredibly bad news for Florida, however, as the storm would then set its sights on the southern tip of the peninsula by Saturday night as a Category 3 or 4 storm.  If the trough digs deeper, then a northward turn before reaching Florida could become more likely.

Another of the uncertainties is how a ridge of high pressure sets up over the Atlantic Ocean next weekend.

If it strengthens, then it would have a better chance at steering the storm closer to the United States as it essentially acts like a bubble into which the storm can't move. The storm would ride along the southwestern part of the ridge as it rotates in a clockwise direction. If it weakens, then the storm would have a better chance of beginning to curve north before reaching the east coast.

The latest computer models have the trough lifting out quickly and the ridge staying relatively strong (keeping the storm farther south and west) , but it is still very early in the forecast. It wouldn't be until next Monday when it would *POTENTIALLY* affect the Carolinas, which could even include the UPSTATE depending on the track.

At this point, residents on the Carolina coast AND the Upstate should be aware of Irma's whereabouts and begin making a preliminary plan in case a bigger threat to land is forecast in the coming days.

Be sure to stay with FOX Carolina for the latest!

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