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Hurricane Dorian passes into Carolinas; Georgia evacuation order lifted
Hurricane Dorian.jpg
This Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, image provided by NASA shows a view of Hurricane Dorian from the International Space Station as it churned over the Atlantic Ocean north of Puerto Rico. - photo by Photo courtesy of NASA

Sept. 5 update:

The lights are quickly coming back on along the Georgia coast in areas where power lines snapped as Hurricane Dorian passed.

Georgia Power said fewer than 5,500 coastal homes and businesses were still without electricity Thursday afternoon. That’s down from more than 12,000 customers in the dark at daybreak that the utility reported on its online outage map.

Emergency officials along the 100-mile Georgia coast were reporting light damage from Dorian. The storm raked Georgia with tropical storm force winds as its center passed offshore.

State officials had braced for worse. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ordered a mandatory evacuation affecting all six coastal Georgia counties. Kemp lifted the evacuation order Thursday morning.

Sept. 4 update:

Hurricane Dorian's center was east of Jacksonville, Florida, as the storm moved parallel to the U.S. Atlantic coast.

By Wednesday afternoon, Dorian's maximum sustained winds had decreased slightly to 105 mph but it remains a Category 2 hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian is centered about 115 miles east of Jacksonville and is moving north-northwest near 9 mph.

At least seven deaths have been reported in the Bahamas from Dorian, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.

Associated Press

Sept. 2 update: 

Hurricane Dorian is expected to rake the East Coast, including coastal Georgia, but should pose little threat to Northeast Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced a mandatory evacuation order for residents east of Interstate 95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties beginning at noon Monday, Sept. 2. 

The forecast calls for the slow-moving Dorian to move past the Bahamas in the next day and strafe up the coast.

“On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Grand Bahama Island through much of today and tonight,” states the National Weather Service forecast from Monday. “The hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late tonight through Wednesday evening and then move dangerously close to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Wednesday night and Thursday.

“Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph with higher gusts. Dorian is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane.”

Storm surge conditions will persist along the coast for several days. 

The current forecast for Northeast Georgia calls for clear skies through the week.

Kemp visited with emergency officials from communities along the Georgia coast before issuing the evacuation order.

Aug. 31 update:

Hurricane Dorian has shifted east and is now forecasted to stay offshore for now. Some models suggest the storm may stay off the coast through Wednesday, according to a National Weather Service briefing at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 31.

“Right now Hall County remains a very low possibility for impacts IF the track maintains,” Casey Ramsey, Hall County Emergency Management Agency director, wrote in an email. “We will know much more after the storm moves across the Bahamas late Sunday into early Monday morning.”

It is a strong category 4 storm with winds 150 miles per hour and is expected to strengthen to 155 mph by tonight. 

Another briefing will be held Sunday.

Aug. 30 update:  

Hurricane Dorian’s landfall predictions have shifted by 24 hours. 

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, the National Weather Service Atlanta, which is headquartered in Peachtree City, predicted that the hurricane would touch land on the coast of Florida by 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3. 

Dylan Lusk, National Weather Service Atlanta meteorologist, said the hurricane seems to be slowing down.

He said the current forecast predicts that the storm will come to shore as a “major hurricane” along the Golden Coast region of Florida, close to Miami. 

In terms of Georgia, he said the storm will make a sharp curve northward over the Florida peninsula. 

“That’s one of the best case scenarios for Georgia,” Lusk said. “As it curves northward toward us, basically the hurricane begins to weaken.”

He expects the southern parts of Georgia to receive potential tropical storms and heavy rainfall. 

Two other scenarios are within the realm of possibility. 

One involves the hurricane staying off the shore of Florida and skirting along the coastline. 

The other scenario includes the hurricane crossing northward over the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico. There Lusk said the hurricane could get the chance to reorganize and restrengthen, then move into the Florida Panhandle and into Georgia. 

“That’s for Central Georgia, the worst case scenario for us,” Lusk said. “Potentially we would get tropical storms around here and much more rain in that situation … and extend possibly into North Georgia.”

Until the finer details are fleshed out, Lusk said the National Weather Service is still five to six days out from seeing any impacts in Georgia. 

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Hall County Emergency Management Agency is jumping ahead of the storm, bringing in its local partners to keep an eye on Hurricane Dorian’s track and prepare for the worst. 

The agency held a weather briefing in conjunction with the National Weather Service on Thursday, Aug. 29, at its Gainesville office.

Adam Baker, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, gave a presentation via webinar to a group of Hall County public safety members, teachers and road maintenance personnel.

He expects the storm will strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane and reach landfall off the eastern coast of Florida by 8 a.m. Monday.

The storm is projected to slow down as it travels north through Florida and southeast Georgia. 

“The key point with that storm is that at some point it will be slowing down,” Baker said in the webinar. “Whatever direction it takes — whether that’s more to the west, more to the north and east — there’s going to be a turn that happens with it, which likely means we’ll have additional rainfall.”

Casey Ramsey, director of the Hall County Emergency Management Agency, said he suspects Hall County will have more rain than usual next week and could have gusty winds.

“I don’t see anything right now that’s terribly alarming,” Ramsey said. “Currently, it’s still a ways out. As it progresses in the next couple of days and we get a little bit closer, it depends on what the track takes after it gets landfall.”

For now, he said it looks like that storm will turn to the northeast once it slows down, which would put Hall County on the western side of the hurricane. 

“The other side is the big wind field, so we don’t want to be on the right-hand side,” Ramsey said. “The best thing to let the community know is that the emergency management and all of our local stakeholders are monitoring the situation and collaborating with state partners and weather service to make sure we’re prepared locally.”

Hall County Emergency Management will hold more briefings involving Hurricane Dorian and its potential local impact at its headquarters on 470 Crescent Drive in Gainesville. The meetings will begin at 12:30 p.m. each day from Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sep. 1. 

The Georgia Department of Transportation stated in a press release Thursday, Aug. 29, that it is prepared on a statewide level for the hurricane, which could cause flooding in southern and central Georgia.

It has 860 employees and 1,033 pieces of equipment ready to deploy as needed.

The organization stated that it is readying itself for torrential rainfall, strong winds with the ability to bring down trees and powerlines, and potential tornadoes in the south and coastal regions of Georgia. 

“I urge our citizens to be ready to move very quickly,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at a 1 p.m. news conference on Thursday. “We still don’t know a lot about the path this storm will take. We should know more in the next 24 hours.”