Q & A about Hurricane Irma... Local impacts and travel

Local impacts from Hurricane Irma

Hey friends! These are questions I've received from you about Hurricane Irma. You might want to check back on this story because I'll add more Q and A's as you ask them. - George

Q) Is our area (Lynchburg/Danville/Roanoke) going to be hit by Hurricane Irma?
A) Rain is highly likely, but hurricane conditions are not. Wind gusts over 40 mph will be possible, especially in higher elevations/mountains and Southside.

Q) What day will we get the most rain?
A) Tuesday.

Q) Does my family need to evacuate Virginia?
A) No.

Q) Will Irma be classified as a Tropical Storm in Virginia?
A) Likely, yes.

Q) How much rain are we going to get?
A) I don't like making a forecast this far away, but I know you want answers! 1” to 5” is our current forecast. We’ll narrow this down as we have a better idea on Irma’s track and strength. Right now, it’s too early to know whether the hurricane heads more toward KY, us or far eastern VA.

Q) Will major flooding be a problem?
A) We could get some reports of flash flooding-- stay tuned. Major river flooding is not likely. Low to moderate river flooding is possible. Compared to Harvey, Irma will weaken much more rapidly over land due to cooler air and land friction in Virginia.

Q) What impact will Northern Virginia see?
A) Probably nothing bad. Rain totals should gradually decrease. Significant wind not likely. Too early to know anything specific.

Q) How much wind are we going to get?
A) Southside and the mountains will get the most wind. Southside will have more wind due to be closer to the coast. Wind gusts over 40 mph are likely for our area. The mountains will have windy conditions as wind speed increases with height.

Q) Will we lose electricity?
A) A few power outages are possible due to the gusty wind, so we could see sporadic outages. Widespread power outages probably aren’t likely.

Q) Are tornadoes likely?
A) Wouldn't rule it out, but unlikely. It’s possible there could be Tornado Warning or two for a weak tornado. I’m not expecting widespread Tornado Warnings-- temperatures won’t be warm enough. We'll keep you updated on any Tornado Warnings that are issued.

Q) So a stronger tornado is not likely?
A) Correct.

Q) How cool will the temperatures be here?
A) Probably remaining in the 60s during most of the rain, possibly 50s. Irma will move into dry air already in place across Virginia, and dry air cools quickly when it gets wet. Also, since Irma will approach from the south, the storm will pull down cooler air from the north into our area.

Q) What assumptions are you making about the forward speed of the hurricane, and when will we feel the effects?
A) Irma will accelerate the farther north it moves from Miami. In our area, most rain falls Tuesday. Rain ends Wednesday.

Q) I’m flying out of Lynchburg to Charlotte on Monday. Will my flight be cancelled?
A) Your plane might be able to sneak into Charlotte on Monday morning. Charlotte likely closes Monday afternoon if not earlier. Monday night= no chance.

Q) I’m flying out of Lynchburg on Tuesday. Will my flight to Charlotte be cancelled?
A) Possible to likely. Charlotte will be okay, but Lynchburg’s wind will be iffy for those small planes.

Q) What about flying Wednesday?
A) You're probably good!

Q I have family in Florida—should they evacuate?
A) If they live in South Florida or the eastern coast of Florida, definitely. If they are not in an evacuation order, I recommend staying put.

Q) We’re planning a quick weekend trip to Hatteras/eastern North Carolina. Am I safe?
A) Yes. North Carolina is dry until Monday morning. However, traffic could be crazy. Keep in mind that lots of Florida residents are driving north to get out of Florida. Traffic could be a mess as people look for shelter.

Q) I'm supposed to travel to Myrtle Beach from Friday through Monday. Will it be safe to go?
A) Friday is fine. Rain and wind gradually increase Saturday P.M. Make sure you're out of there before Sunday. Sunday= hurricane day.

Q) What about Charleston this weekend?
A) No, don’t go. People are already evacuating, and most businesses will likely close. Charleston could get hammered by Irma.

Q) Is Irma the result of a controlled government act?
A) No.

Q) George, what is your biggest question about Irma?
A) How far inland, if any, does the storm move into Florida. Yes, South Florida will get slammed. But whether the path moves over Florida, or slightly offshore when moving northward will mean the difference between whether South Carolina gets smashed with a Category 1 storm or a Category 4. This will also determine how strong Irma is when it reaches Virginia. FL, GA and SC will suffer the worst damage.

Q) When will you be more certain of how much rain we’ll see in Virginia?
A) Check back Friday and this weekend!