Hurricane Irma could bring storms to state

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Nobody knows exactly where Hurricane Irma will make landfall, but officials said an impact on Alabama can’t be ruled out.

“We’ll need to continue monitoring accordingly,” said Gary Doggins, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Birmingham. “We’ll be watching this very closely. In fact, we’re going to be launching several weather balloons to get a better idea of how things are setting up.”

Just weeks after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, Hurricane Irma formed in the Atlantic and has already developed into a Category 5 with the potential to get even stronger as it makes it’s approach towards the United States this weekend.

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Several models have Irma turning northward and staying in the Atlantic, posing the greatest risk to Florida and the Carolinas, while others have the storm tracking further west before making it’s turn north, potentially impacting at the southern tip of Florida or even making it into the gulf and hitting the Florida panhandle or Alabama’s gulf shore.

Doggins said it is still really too early to tell exactly what the storm will do, but the odds are currently still in favor of Alabama missing the brunt of the storm.

“The chances of any direct impact are currently low” Doggins said. “The only impacts may be a wind advisory if it takes the far western track. Confidence is increasing that we’ll be on the west side of this storm.  But it’s way too early to say right now. It’s been waffling back and forth from east to west. It’s too early to be that specific. It looks like the Florida Peninsula will be impacted though, so anyone with interests there will need to be preparing accordingly.”

For those in Alabama, Doggins advised playing close attention to the system as it makes it’s way closer and experts are able to better predict it’s path.

Chris Dozier, who is currently handling emergency management in Pike County, said that he’s doing just that right now.

“We’re still in the sit back and wait phase,” Dozier said. “We need to prepare for the worst case though. My mentality is to plan for the worst and hope for the best; otherwise it’s going to end up a whole lot worse.”

If Irma does make an impact on Alabama, it will be the first major hurricane to do so since Dennis in 2005 and Ivan in 2004.