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Hurricane Irma prompts Atlantans to contemplate tropical cyclone impact

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While the city may be far from the coast, we’re not immune from experiencing hurricanes

A view of the globe, with the storm swirling.
Hurricane Irma from space.
NOAA via AFP—Getty Images

Hurricanes are generally considered to be risks only to coastal areas, with inland cities like Atlanta usually well out of harm’s way. Usually.

But as Hurricane Irma—now one of the most powerful storms in the Atlantic—tracks toward the United States, predictions are beginning to point it toward Georgia.

Current National Hurricane Center predictions show the storm turning northward at the southern tip of Florida, but with the move five days out, there’s still plenty of uncertainty about where the storm will actually go.

Other tracks, which predict beyond 120 hours, show the potential for the storm to head northward into Georgia, possibly even to Atlanta.

Long-range forecasts put the storm going through the center of Georgia.
CFAN via Weather Underground

Of course, the brunt of the destructive power of the storm will be focused on coastal areas, but that doesn’t mean a storm such as Irma couldn’t do serious damage in metro Atlanta.

It’s been more than two decades since Hurricane Opal passed through Atlanta, after making landfall in the Florida panhandle as a Category Three hurricane. According to a CNN report on Oct. 5, 1995, the storm—by then packing winds below 80 miles per hour—knocked out power to more than 250,000 in the metro area and brought trees crashing down.

As Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma in the next few days, it’s likely that some evacuees will find their way to Atlanta. While south Georgia may feel effects of the storm by early next week, current models show that Atlanta won’t experience wind and rain from the system for a while later.

Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the storm as things develop, and to stock up on essentials in case of power outages late next week.