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People in Florida get into shelters ahead of hurricane Irma.
Video provided by AFP
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MELBOURNE, Fla. — Hurricane Irma’s projected path scrapes Florida’s Gulf Coast with chances of a last-minute turn “near zero,” but the East Coast shouldn’t put its guard down yet.

Much of the state is positioned directly in the storm’s northeast quadrant — boosting the threat of squalls, heavy rains and potential tornadoes.

“We don’t want people’s guards to be down at this point. This is the dirty side of the storm, as we like to call it,” Will Ulrich, a National Weather Service meteorologist at the Melbourne station, said Friday morning.

“And it is where the most intense rain band activity can occur. It’s where the strongest winds tend to be associated with a hurricane. So while we may not be impacted by the core, or the center, of Hurricane Irma, we still are going to face several threats from the system — one of which is the possibility of tornadoes,” Ulrich said.

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“Research tells us that tornado probabilities are at their highest when you are in the northeastern quadrant of the storm. And that’s unfortunately where we’re going to find ourselves here in the Space Coast for the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

 

As Irma starts to turn northward, Ulrich squalls and heavy rain bands will move into Brevard, Fla. 

“Those initial rain bands from Irma are expected to move north over the Space Coast overnight. And it’s those rain bands that we’re particularly concerned for a threat for isolated tornadoes,” Ulrich said.

“The conditions that favor tornadoes will really increase before sunrise on Sunday, and that threat will continue through much of the day on Sunday,” he said.