ATLANTA — After battering Florida, Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, could impact the Georgia coast.
Ian’s winds weakened to 65 mph on Thursday morning. When the storm made landfall Wednesday afternoon along the Gulf Coast in Florida, it was a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of about 150 mph.
The storm left extensive damage along its path, and Gov. Brian Kemp started a news conference Thursday morning asking for everyone to pray for those impacted by the storm.
“I would ask everybody to keep those Floridians that have been affected by the storm in your thoughts and prayers,” Kemp said.
As Ian moves out of Florida, it will move along the East Coast impacting parts of the Georgia coast as it moves north. A state of emergency is now in effect for all of Georgia.
Hurricane warnings for the Georgia coastal counties have been downgraded to tropical storm warnings. A storm surge warning and hurricane watch remain in effect for the coast with the potential for a 4-6 feet peak storm surge.
Because of that, Kemp is reminding “everybody to be weather aware” and to take precautions now.
“As you know, that was a devastating storm when it hit land,” Kemp said. “It continued to build strength. A very tough situation. A lot of damage. They’re still dealing with the aftermath and the current path of the storm with heavy rain events, flooding and things. And that is coming our way.”
Kemp said emergency officials are concerned about potential flooding and heavy winds that will be moving through parts of the state.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said as of 9 a.m., it had closed the Sidney Lanier Bridge on U.S. 17 over the Brunswick River. The Talmadge Memorial Bridge will remain open to traffic, and the Houlihan Bridge will remain closed to maritime traffic but will remain open to vehicular traffic. The Savannah airport also remained open as of Thursday morning.
The governor also said the state continues to welcome evacuees who are trying to escape the storm.
“We continue to have a lot of hotel/motel capacity to meet their demand,” Kemp said.
The biggest impact from Ian will hit the Georgia coast throughout Saturday. For the Atlanta metro, 95.5 WSB Meteorologist Christina Edwards said areas east of Atlanta will see 1-2 inches of rain starting Friday night through Saturday. Areas west of Atlanta will receive less than an inch of rain during the same time.
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