Given the setup in the atmosphere as well as where hurricanes have traveled from similar starting points, negotiating the Antilles, Irene may take a path somewhat similar to Hurricane Bertha in 1996.
The difference between Bertha and Irene is that Bertha was a Category 2 hurricane at landfall. Irene should come onshore as a strong Category 3 hurricane.
Irene would then become the strongest hurricane to strike the Carolinas since Fran in 1996.
People in the eastern part of the Carolinas, especially the coastal areas and barrier islands from the Myrtle Beach area on northeast, should begin making preparations for a possible hurricane landfall that brings 100-mph winds or greater, storm surge flooding, torrential rainfall and possible tornadoes.
People in these areas should be prepared to evacuate, in case the order is given.
As we often see with a hurricane moving along this sort of path, the worst conditions will be near, north and east of the center of circulation.
Storms moving in this manner along the east coast of the United States tend to become lop-sided with dry air sweeping in west and southwest of the center promoting sunny skies.
This sort of setup could deprive some areas of the interior South of needed rainfall.
That being said, there can still be minimal tropical storm-force winds west of the center along the eastern Florida and Georgia coasts. Tree damage and power outages would be possible.
"Large waves and swells will increase causing dangerous surf and a high potential for rip currents starting on Wednesday and lasting into this weekend," stated AccuWeather.com Hurricane and Tropical Weather Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski as an added danger for these coasts.
The outermost rain bands of Irene could graze the Florida beaches on Thursday into Friday morning, Kottlowski added.
There are other ramifications as the storm is not likely to stop in the Carolinas. It is very possible strong tropical storm or even hurricane conditions will continue to spread up the Atlantic Seaboard.
By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist - Accuweather.com