Carolinas brace for Hurricane Irma

North & South Carolina brace for Hurricane Irma

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on North Carolina's preparedness activities with the approach of Hurricane Irma (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says people from the mountains to the coast need to be vigilant preparing for Hurricane Irma even as projections have a weakened storm entering the state well inland early next week.

Cooper said at a media briefing Thursday that the system could still affect from people across the state -- a key reason why he issued an emergency declaration statewide. The State Emergency Response Team is readying for the storm with rescue teams and staging areas in Kinston, Greensboro and Asheville. Emergency management director Mike Sprayberry says more than 300 National Guard soldiers are being brought in to help and more are available.

Nick Petro with the National Weather Service in Raleigh says heavy rain and inland wind damage could result in extended power outages, with possible mudslides in the mountains. He says dangerous surf and rip currents should be anticipated at the coast.

Hurricane Irma continues to barrel across the Caribbean Sea toward the Florida peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center is reporting the storm should reach the Bahamas by 8 p.m. Thursday night.

Track the Storm: Live Hurricane Tracker

Hurricane Irma is still a massive and destructive Category 5 storm, making its way across the Eastern Caribbean.

Western North Carolina should pay close attention to the forecast, as it is looking more likely that Hurricane Irma will impact our area.

The uncertainty lies in just how intense the impacts will be in Western North Carolina, due to the changing path of the storm.

Your local Forcast: Live Interactive Radar

As of Thursday morning, the NHC path is sending the storm to South Carolina after a potential landfall in Florida.

If the storm stays on the coast of the Carolinas, Western North Carolina will see minimal impacts. If the storm heads further inland, the region could see heavy rain and very strong winds.

This is a changing forecast! Irma's impacts will be determined by the ultimate path of the storm, but our crews do expect conditions to deteriorate Monday as rain and wind pick up.

On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency taking effect at 8 a.m. Thursday for the entire state.

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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared an emergency as officials assessed the chances of Hurricane Irma's path bringing the storm into the state. "It is a precaution. This is not an order of evacuation," McMaster said in Columbia, South Carolina's capital, adding evacuations could be ordered as early as Friday, if needed. "Assume it's arriving tomorrow morning and get ready. When that hurricane is coming, when it gets close, it's too late."

The last major hurricane to hit South Carolina was Hugo in September 1989. It slammed ashore just north of Charleston with winds of 135 mph (215 kph), causing 13 deaths in the state and $6.5 billion in damage in 1989 dollars.

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