Irma brings small risk of tornadoes to Robeson County

By: By T.C. Hunter -
Ricky Harris

LUMBERTON — Two to 3 inches of rain and winds of 25 to 30 mph, and maybe a tornado, are in the forecast Monday and Tuesday as Hurricane Irma pushes northwest into Tennessee,

“There might be a small risk in your area on Sunday, more so on Monday,” said Stephen Keebler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

But if the weather system spawns any tornadoes they will be small, he said. There’s not the risk of the massive damage produced by the devastating tornadoes seen in the Great Plains.

“There is always that risk,” Keebler said.

Robeson County should get about 2.5 inches of rain from Irma, he said. On Monday the winds will be from the northeast at 20 to 25 mph hour. The winds will be out of the southwest on Tuesday and increase in strength to 25-30 mph.

The ground in Lumberton already is saturated, so the wind and rain increases the possibility of power outages, fallen tree limbs and downed trees, said Wayne Horne, Lumberton city manager. City personnel, who will remain on standby throughout the weekend, are prepared to restore power and remove trees and debris from the streets.

“But, these things change every day,” Horne said.

More will be known Sunday about Irma’s possible movement and affect on Robeson County, County Manager Ricky Harris said Saturday.

“I will be meeting with Stephanie (Chavis, county Emergency Management director) tomorrow about 3 p.m.,” Harris said.

They will share the latest Irma-related information and review local preparation and response plans, he said.

The National Hurricane Center forecast released at 2 p.m. Saturday had Irma classified as a tropical depression by 8 a.m. Tuesday with winds less than 39 mph when it brushes past North Carolina. The forecast placed only the state’s western tip in the storm’s cone of possible movement.

Still, Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday that officials are prepared for potential flooding and landslides in western North Carolina early next week, according to an Associated Press report.

Cooper said that while Hurricane Irma is projected to travel west of the state, it will still bring heavy rains and wind, particularly in the mountains and along the border with South Carolina.

“We’re continuing to take preparation for this storm seriously, and we’re asking families and businesses across the state to do the same,” Cooper said.

National Guardsmen were to begin setting up today in Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville to support various storm response activities, including debris removal, he said.

Ricky Harris Harris

By T.C. Hunter

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.