As the storm intensifies and moves toward Florida, National Weather Service offices in the Midwest, like in International Falls, have been launching twice as many weather balloons as normal.
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After passing through the Caribbean, Irma is on track to make landfall as a "major hurricane" in Florida on Sunday morning, before tracking up the coast towards the Carolinas. Slow-moving Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of Texas.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said Hurricane Irma is so record-breaking strong it's impossible to hype.
Hydrological and software development experts at FIU's International Hurricane Research Center and College of Engineering and Computing worked with Miami-Dade County to create a web-based application that allows users to visualize the impact of storm surge.
In the meantime, hotels in Trussville are being filled up with people fleeing the storm and Birmingham is preparing to take evacuees.
"It's important not to look at everything on social media, because there's a lot of insane stuff out there", she said. "Northeasterly to northerly winds of 25-30 miles per hour with frequent higher gusts are expected Sunday afternoon through Monday", according to the National Weather Service.
No matter when severe weather strikes, one of the best things you can have in this situation is a NOAA weather radio. The storm was expected to turn northwest near the already-storm-stricken Leeward Islands on Saturday, according to an 11 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.