The chance of high winds and heavy rain in Hall County and Northeast Georgia from Hurricane Florence continues to diminish, according to the latest weather briefing from the National Weather Service in Atlanta, given at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.
The worst of the storm will hit locally between Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, with bands of rain and wind gusts moving in and out of the area during that time.
The risk for 2-4 inches of rain, wind gusts exceeding 30 mph and flooding is now forecast for only the far eastern and northeastern parts of Georgia, along the borders with North Carolina and South Carolina. Locally, an inch of rain is possible, with wind gusts up to 15 mph.
There has been no significant change in the track of the storm over the past 24 hours, but the hurricane has slowed and could potentially stall across the Carolinas over the weekend.
The impact in Hall, however, could change quickly depending on how far west the hurricane pushes before likely veering north, weather service officials said.
“Obviously, the storm track has changed for the positive for us,” Casey Ramsey, Hall County’s interim emergency management agency director, told The Times. “We’re still going to maintain good situational awareness. However, we’re on the good side of the storm.”
Ramsey advised residents to follow local media for updates and sign up for emergency alerts and weather updates by visiting alerts.hallcounty.org.
The eye of Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina early Friday with howling 90 mph winds and storm surge, splintering buildings and trapping hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and destructive drenching.
How to help victims of Hurricane Florence
What: Syfan Logistics of Gainesville is collecting items for hurricane relief efforts. Items needed include nonperishable foods, bottled water, trash bags, insect repellent and cleaning kits.
When: Beginning Monday, Sept. 17
Where: Trailer will be parked at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, 2780 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
More info: 770-532-1234
As the giant, 400-mile-wide hurricane pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses.
As of Friday afternoon, the storm was blamed for at least four fatalities. A mother and infant in North Carolina were killed after a tree fell on their home.
In New Bern, North Carolina, swift-water rescue teams assisted residents of one community swamped by the storm. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press more than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help.
Late Friday, forecasters downgraded Florence to a tropical storm but said the storm will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said more than 16 inches of rain fell at locations in southeast North Carolina and another 20 to 25 inches is on the way.
President Donald Trump is preparing to travel to areas affected by Florence. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will travel to the region “early to middle of next week.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.