Prepare now for Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, UGA climatologist says

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Hurricane Dorian may bring power outages, downed trees, heavy rain and possibly brief tornadoes to Georgia this weekend and well into next week, according to Pam Knox, director of the University of Georgia Weather Network and an agricultural climatologist.

“Dorian’s path has been farther east than originally forecast, which means that its circulation has avoided the mountainous terrain of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. That means it was less disrupted than expected, and now is forecast to approach the east coast of Florida as a potentially major hurricane by Monday,” Knox said.

The storm is expected to affect all of the Georgia coast, but Dorian’s path is likely to change significantly over the coming days, Knox said.

“The more eastward path has also added time before the projected landfall, so that gives us a little extra time to prepare. There is also a slight chance the storm will recurve to the northeast before it hits the coast — in that case, breathe a sigh of relief and think of this as preparation for the next storm,” she said.

Southeastern Georgians should be prepared for tropical storm-force winds to hit as early as Sunday morning. As in any event with potentially heavy flooding, Knox urges Georgians to move equipment and livestock out of low-lying areas before the storm arrives and stock up on fuel and the capacity to provide power for milking, drying of crops, etc. Any outdoor items that could be dislodged by heavy winds and become a projectile should be secured.

Knox says the weather should remain dry through Saturday, but after that the chances for rain go up.

“Along the coast, onshore flow coupled with the already higher-than-normal tides will increase the chances of flooding, and that will only be made worse by the tropical rainfall,” she said. “Spiral bands ahead of the storm could produce brief tornadoes in isolated thunderstorm cells. Power outages are likely due to the combination of wet soil and strong winds blowing trees over.”

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael just over a month away, Knox urges southwestern Georgia to not let their guard down.

“A number of computer models indicate that the storm could cross the Florida peninsula and enter the Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures are above normal. A recurve to the north into Georgia is a possibility and, even if the storm weakens as you might expect, heavy rain and brief tornadoes could occur in that situation,” she said.

If Dorian crosses Florida, the storm’s timing would move to early next week, she said.

Georgians in central and northern Georgia have more time to watch the storm develop. Knox says this valuable time should be used to prepare for potential tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain likely Tuesday through Thursday.

“That could change depending on where Dorian actually goes and how fast it is moving,” she said. “The Labor Day holiday weekend means that there will be extra people on the road and in hotels, so don’t wait until the last minute to get gasoline, cash and whatever else you might need in case of power outages and road closures.”

Knox recommends Georgians get current information from reliable sources like the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service and local emergency managers. Stock an emergency radio with fresh batteries to stay informed should a power outage occur in your area.

For the latest information from UGA agricultural climatologist Pam Knox, follow her on Twitter at @SE_AgClimate, on Facebook at SEAgClimate and on her blog at site.extension.uga.edu/climate.

For more storm preparation resources from UGA Extension, https://extension.uga.edu/topic-areas/timely-topics/emergencies.html.

Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.
Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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