Hurricane Irma is tracking more to the west of Western North Carolina after making landfall in Florida this weekend. But WNC will still see significant rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities are urging residents not to get complacent with the track of the storm.
Rain is expected to start falling in the region Monday, with between 2-4 inches forecast to fall in Asheville according to the National Weather Service. Slightly higher amounts are expected to the west of the city. The heaviest rainfall is expected between 8 Monday night and 8 Tuesday morning. Despite the apparent reprieve the state may receive thanks to Irma's new track, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper says residents should remain prepared. "We are not yet in the clear, and we can't let our guard down", the governor said at a Friday afternoon press conference in Raleigh. North Carolina Emergency Management will create two staging grounds for crews to respond to the storm - in Asheville, and in Greensboro. Those staging grounds will be up and running Sunday afternoon. The Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuees at East Henderson High School in Flat Rock Saturday evening.
The state department of transportation is warning of increased traffic on interstates in North Carolina, particularly those that run south to north. That's due to evacuees from states to the south in the direct path of Irma. In particular, I-26 in WNC, as well as I-77 and I-95, are seeing heavier traffic. Vehicles that are abandoned or unattended along those roads will be towed away to ensure traffic keeps moving. Tim Little of NCDOT says they are also worried for the potential of rock slides and mudslides in the mountainous areas of WNC.