ATLANTA—Gov. Brian P. Kemp today (Aug. 29) issued a State of Emergency order for all of Georgia in preparation for Hurricane Idalia’s anticipated impact later this week.
Currently, the storm system is expected to move through the state Wednesday, bringing heavy rainfall and damaging winds throughout Southeast Georgia. The State of Emergency went into effect upon the governor’s signature today, Aug. 29, and will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. You can read Executive Order 08.29.23.01 here.
“We are taking every precaution ahead of Hurricane Idalia’s landfall tomorrow, and I am taking this additional executive action to ensure state assets are ready to respond” said Gov. Kemp. “Georgians in the expected impact area can and should take necessary steps to ensure their safety and that of their families. We are well positioned to respond to whatever Idalia may bring.”
This latest executive action related to Hurricane Idalia follows the activation of the State Operations Center on Monday morning, ensuring all relevant state, local, and federal agencies are closely coordinating on storm preparations and response. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) State Operations Center remains open and is continuing to monitor Hurricane Idalia’s progress as it approaches Florida’s Gulf coast. Governor Kemp, GEMA/HS officials, and other state leaders are working closely with local officials on planned and implemented storm response. GEMA/HS also has teams standing by to deploy to affected counties, when appropriate.
Current weather overview:
Idalia became a hurricane last night and is set to rapidly intensify to major hurricane status by tonight, making landfall along the Florida Big Bend tomorrow morning as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
The track forecast has shifted slightly west since yesterday evening. The brunt of Georgia impacts are still expected in South-Central and Southeast Georgia. The forecast track could shift with future updates.
Brooks, Lowndes, Lanier, Echols, Clinch, Ware, and Charlton Counties are under a Hurricane Warning. Pierce and Brantley Counties are under a Hurricane Watch. Additional counties may be added to the Hurricane Watch or Warning later today. Much of the rest of Southeast and South-Central Georgia are under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means that either hurricane-force or tropical storm-force conditions are expected within the respective warning areas within 36 hours.
Idalia is expected to make severe impacts along the Florida Big Bend tomorrow morning. It will begin to rapidly weaken as it moves inland but should still be a Category 1 hurricane as it moves into far southern Georgia. Idalia will continue to move through southern and eastern Georgia tomorrow afternoon and evening before exiting Georgia tomorrow night. The primary hazards will be strong winds and heavy rainfall causing widespread debris, power outages, and localized flash flooding.
Impacts to Georgia
Widespread 40-50 mph wind gusts are possible across South and East-Central Georgia. Counties under a Hurricane Warning could see 70-80 mph (perhaps even higher) wind gusts as the core of the storm moves through tomorrow afternoon. Falling trees and powerlines could cause widespread power outages and life-safety issues for counties in and around the Hurricane Warning.
Rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches will be common across Southeastern Georgia, with some areas receiving up to 8 inches. Because the storm is moving through rather quickly, and due to recent below-average rainfall, widespread flash flooding is not expected but localized/isolated flash flooding is possible.
There is also the risk for a few tornadoes in Southeast Georgia tomorrow. 2-3 feet of storm surge will be possible along the Georgia coast, and minor to moderate flood inundation will be possible along the immediate coastline near high tide tomorrow evening.
There is an increasing likelihood of significant impacts to far South Georgia tomorrow as Hurricane Idalia moves through. Counties under a Hurricane Warning should expect widespread power outages and life-safety issues from downed trees and powerlines. Counties under a Tropical Storm Warning should expect gusty winds and heavy rainfall throughout the day tomorrow. Flash flooding from prolonged heavy rainfall could occur. A few tornadoes will be possible in Southeast Georgia. Minor to moderate coastal flooding is possible during tomorrow evening’s high tide cycle.
What Georgians can do to prepare:
Governor Kemp urges all Georgians to remain weather alert and to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. Those directly impacted by the storm’s path are encouraged to consult GEMA/HS’ informational website that includes tips on storm preparedness before, during, and after a hurricane.
Take appropriate action based on your location.
Residents who are in vulnerable housing situations, including those in low-lying areas or at-risk floodplains, should consider relocating temporarily to higher ground.
All of South and Coastal Georgia should pay close attention to guidance from local officials and review family emergency plans with those in their care.
Everyone is encouraged to start planning now by:
Preparing Ready kits
Reviewing communications plans for their families
Paying attention to guidance from local officials and trusted news sources for the most up-to-date information.
Visiting www.gema.georgia.gov for more information.