Hurricane Irma is now a Category 5 storm with 185 mph winds. However, what are the chances that the dangerous storm will hit Atlanta or other areas of Georgia?
According to the National Weather Service, the storm is too unpredictable to determine for certain whether it will hit Georgia, but recent trends in its track have concerned meteorologists. Georgia was now in the hurricane’s forecast cone late in the morning of September 6. However, there is far greater concern for cities along the Georgia coast, and Atlanta is not projected to see hurricane conditions. The forecast could shift suddenly as the storm remains unpredictable.
UPDATE: You can see our September 8 updates on Atlanta and Irma here.
Spaghetti models have also shown increasing impact for Georgia: They show the storm taking an eastward shift before possibly imperiling Georgia and South Carolina. On September 6, the governor issued a state of emergency for some coastal counties.
However, the extended forecast for Atlanta does not mention hurricane conditions.
The storm is headed first toward South Florida (it made landfall in Barbuda overnight), but it’s not yet clear what turn it will take after that point. Some spaghetti models – which literally look like noodles on a map – also show an eastward shift in the storm but with more peril for Georgia and, even more so, the Carolinas than previously thought (other earlier models had the storm heading over the Gulf, for example). See more of those models here.
The September 7 update from the National Hurricane Center mentions Georgia and says the chances of direct impact there are increasing but remain unpredictable.
The National Weather Service’s office that serves Atlanta released this video update on September 6:
The September 6 hazardous weather outlook for Charleston says: “Increased chances of precip expected Sunday and Monday as hurricane Irma nears the southeastern U.S. There is still some uncertainty with track of Irma, but it is possible to see some impacts by the beginning of next week.”
According to that update, “Unfortunately, this nice weather we’re expecting could come to an end with Hurricane Irma….We’re also seeing some possibility of good news. It’s way too early to say for sure…This track has turned a little to the right…all of the computer models that ran overnight have shifted the track to the east. What does this mean for Georgia?…the track can change, you need to keep watch it, but what we could be seeing is the start of a trend toward an eastward track.”
It’s all headed to Florida and then “a quick right turn happening a little sooner, this is now Sunday.” The update says most of the models that far out “are taking it out to sea,” and “two of the models are showing a landfall in South Carolina.” However, the day before, there was a slightly more westward path of the hurricane that imperiled Georgia more.
Here’s the video from September 5:
“It has quite a ways to go before it impacts any of the local area,” the NWS representative for Georgia says in the September 5 video of the hurricane. He says the trends earlier in the week showed a possible effect on the Carolinas. “But the trends have been more westward now… the question will be whether it goes out to the Gulf, out to sea or up the spine of Florida.”
He said the range of possibilities is tightening, providing more confidence in the track of the storm, but there still remains variance. Where it goes after the Florida straits is unclear but “it’s trending somewhere toward the State of Georgia, which concerns us. As far as the timing goes…we’re not looking until Saturday morning for some of the main effects to move into the Gulf and Florida.” As for Georgia, “We’re not looking for our area (to be affected) until maybe Sunday night or Monday, if the storm were to indeed affect the State of Georgia. So we have some time, but we would like everyone to use this time accordingly to prepare.”
He said that NWS officials have become more concerned over time that the storm could strike Georgia instead of going out over the Gulf. He said it’s “pretty much a guarantee” that there will be strong winds across the State of Georgia. There could be significant power outages, he said.
Track Hurricane Irma’s progress here.
See the weather forecast for Atlanta, Georgia here. Note that it’s run out of the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City, Georgia office. See the latest radar for Georgia here. See an infrared satellite map here. See the hourly forecast here.
This is the detailed extended forecast for Atlanta, courtesy of the National Weather Service:
“Overnight (September 7)
Mostly clear, with a low around 55. North wind around 5 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 77. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 55. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.
Sunny, with a high near 79. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 59. Northeast wind around 5 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 79.
Mostly clear, with a low around 59.
Sunny, with a high near 75.
A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 59.
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 72.
A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58.
A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 74.
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 59.
A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.”