While we slept Irene continued to churn away down around the Dominican Republic and this morning the local weather forecasters are a little more confident that they know what Irene is going to do. As time goes by the uncertainty will lessen, they say. Last evening the reporters were stressing "awareness" but not alarm, and there still seemed to be hope that the late night advisories would show a continued shift in Irene to the East. However, it now seems that the shifting away of the projected path has sort of stopped and Irene seems to be taking aim at the Carolina coastline.
The Live 5 News weatherman stressed this morning that they have taken the "red-line" away from the forecast track because it represented an estimate of where the center of circulation would be, the eye if you will. He stressed that Irene looks to be headed for mega storm size and that is very important that people not focus on the red line or eye of the storm, because irregardless of left or right shifts in the eye path, strong conditions will exist everywhere within the shaded cone areas. The bottom line, if Irene behaves exactly as forecast now and her eye falls on land near Wilmington, NC the eye of a category 4 hurricane will pass 75-100 miles off shore of The Land of Palm Trees. They stress, a category 4 hurricane the size that Irene looks to become will have hurricane force winds extending out several miles from the eye, and at that time, a 100 mile shift could bring the eye right over just about any point along the South or North Carolina coast. So...... The word yesterday was, "review" your hurricane prep plans. This morning, they stress, expect hurricane conditions here Friday night and Saturday morning and begin implementing your plans. In other words, gather your "take with you kit", ie documents, heirlooms,checkbook, bills, computers, cash, etc and know where you are headed if you will be evacuating.
We live about 25 miles inland, so our worries are not storm surge related, but our concerns focus on wind damage, tornadoes that are spawned by the storm and flooding due to torrential rains. During Hugo, buildings and homes in Summerville did sustain major structural damage. Not saying that Irene is going to be another Hugo, although, if the storm grows to Cat 4 status, you have to be prepared for Hugo like effects. Our family hurricane plan has always been to evacuate inland for any nearby landfall of a Category 4 storm, and stay put for Category 3 and below. We have all of the supplies on-hand to prepare for staying put. Today, we will begin to gather our evacuation kits, in the event that conditions later in the week call for an evacuation. The checklists are in place, and at this point, the question doesn't seem to be whether Irene will impact us, the question is how much impact will we experience.
Tomorrow, more than likely the National Hurricane Center will issue hurricane watches and warnings for our area. That will add a degree of reality to the whole experience. Over the next couple of days a great deal of the uncertainty will give way to the reality. Importantly, the models now show a concensus South or North Carolina impact. Life goes on this morning, there is school to prepare for and a morning round of golf before an afternoon of packing our evacuation kit. Have a great day and I will try to keep you up to date From The Land of Palm Trees.