Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches extended into Southwest Georgia
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Dougherty, Grady, Lanier, Leon, Lowndes, Madison, Mitchell, Thomas, Tift, and Worth until further notice.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Baker, Ben Hill, Calhoun, Clay, Coffee Decatur, Early, Irwin, Lee, Miller, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole, Terrell, and Turner County until further notice.
Category 4 Hurricane Irma continues to move west northwest along the northern coast of Cuba. Hurricane Irma continues to be a severe and extremely dangerous hurricane. Because of the size of the storm, Irma will produce far-reaching effects regardless of where the exact center of the storm moves.
At 5 a.m. Saturday, Irma was located about 640 miles south-southeast of Tallahassee, Florida. Irma is a strong, Category 4 hurricane and is moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph with maximum 155 mph sustained winds. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it approaches Florida Sunday.
Models continue to edge the track of Hurricane Irma westward. The region remains in the three day Cone of Uncertainty with the storm moving across our area as a Cat 1, or 2, hurricane in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Primary time period of impact is late Sunday through Monday. Conditions will gradually improve Monday night as a weakening tropical storm Irma moves northward into central Georgia.
Tropical storm force winds could begin to impact north central Florida late Sunday…spreading across north Florida Sunday night and South Georgia early Monday. Winds 60-80 mph are expected Monday with gusts to 90 mph. Hurricane storm force winds may be felt Monday afternoon and evening.
Such winds can bring down large tree limbs, trees, and power lines, leading to power outages and impassable roads. Significant power and communication outages are possible; potentially lasting for weeks. The strongest winds are likely to be east of the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers.
Based on the 5 a.m. track, there is an increased risk of tornadoes east of Interstate 75. Areas northeast and east of Irma's center have the greatest risk, with a lesser risk near the track of Irma. Greatest threat appears to be Sunday night-Monday in southeast Georgia.
- Isolated tornadoes are expected, resulting in a notable impact to affected communities.
- Isolated areas affected by tornadoes will experience minor damage, including some damage to structures and sporadic power and communication outages.
- A few structures will be damaged by tornadoes, mainly with loss of shingles or siding. Some mobile homes will be significantly damaged, especially those unanchored. Large trees will be snapped or uprooted.
Areas along and west of the I-75 could see 5-8 inches. East of I-75 could see 8-15 inches with locally higher amounts.
Localized heavy rainfall may result in flooding of low lying areas, necessitating basic precautions to protect vulnerable structures.
- Rivers and associated tributary creeks and streams will rise and approach bankfull levels. Runoff will increase water levels in area holding ponds and drainage ditches, reducing storage capacity to absorb future rainfall.
- Isolated flooding in low lying areas will make driving difficult. Ponding of water in low lying areas may result in brief road closures.
- The severity of flooding will depend on extent of excessive rainfall
- Based on future rainfall amounts, the Satilla River at Atkinson is expected to rise to 12.7 feet. Action stage is 11 feet. Flood stage is 13 feet.
While Irma's track is becoming a BIT clearer, what happens to the storm to our south is key. Any deviation to the east increases our risk. Given the size of Irma, regardless of the exact track it takes, significant impacts are expected across our area.
Now is the time to check your emergency plan and take necessary actions to secure your home or business. Deliberate efforts should be underway to protect life and property. Ensure that your Emergency Supplies Kit is stocked and ready. When making safety and preparedness decisions, do not focus on the exact forecast track as there are inherent forecast uncertainties which must be taken into account. Storm preparations should be completed by Saturday evening.