Tropical Storm Warning for Atlanta is Not Unprecedented

“Forecasters warned that after charting up Florida’s west coast, a weakened Irma could push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, some 200 miles from the sea.”

Tropical Storm Warning for Atlanta is Not Unprecedented

The paragraph you just read was extracted from this article written by Tamara Lush and Jay Reeves of the Associated Press; and although that last quoted statement may be technically true as I cannot at this time find evidence to the contrary, a tropical storm in Atlanta may be unusual — but it is not unprecedented.

Like Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Opal was a Category 4 hurricane prior to landfall near Pensacola, which occurred on Wednesday, October 4, 1995. The powerful storm moved north northeast quickly enough to finally lose its hurricane status just prior to reaching the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, when it was downgraded to the strongest tropical storm possible, with maximum sustained winds at 70 miles per hour.

The results from that storm included millions of dollars of damage; thousands of trees blown down by winds; significant flooding caused by as much as 18 inches of rain; and extensive power outages.

How do I know? I was there when it happened.

Summary

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma heads northwest along the western coast of Florida, which is outlined with purple lines. Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Travel to or from Atlanta will not be a good idea until at least Wednesday. Expect flights to be delayed or canceled.

I predict that Tropical Storm Irma will not be nearly as powerful as Tropical Storm Opal when it reaches the greater Atlanta metropolitan area; but I believe the slower movement of Irma could give the storm more time to inflict damage — mainly flooding and fallen trees caused by gusty winds, which will lead to sporadic power outages. Isolated tornadoes are not out of the question.

The winds have already started to pick up on an otherwise spectacularly sunny day in the Atlanta area. Grocery stores are already wiped out of supplies — even soon after they are replenished. Most hotel properties are full and have no vacancies, as a significant influx of vehicles from Florida is obvious on the roads. I predict that most schools and some companies will be closed on Monday, September 11 and Tuesday, September 12, 2017…

…but I also believe that the greater Atlanta metropolitan area will weather the storm fairly well. The focus is currently on Florida — and rightfully so — with which landfall of Hurricane Irma occurred earlier today at 9:10 in the morning as a Category 4 hurricane at Cudjoe Key; and another landfall is imminent somewhere along the western coast of Florida. Tropical storm watches have extended as far north as Tennessee; and the entire Florida peninsula is under a hurricane warning.

My thoughts and prayers are with all who have been — and could still be — adversely impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

2 thoughts on “Tropical Storm Warning for Atlanta is Not Unprecedented”

  1. Kelli Stanyard says:

    Why do all these reporters on all the networks keep saying it’s the first time for Atlanta to have a tropical storm warning? Don’t they remember Opal? I think it was actually worse here in ATL than what we are experiencing now.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Tropical Storm Opal was worse in the fact that it was much more powerful than Tropical Storm Irma, Kelli Stanyard — but that was because it sped through the greater Atlanta metropolitan area significantly faster than Tropical Storm Irma, which is still located south of Atlanta.

      Because Opal was fast moving, it retained its strength when it reached Atlanta better than Irma, which is moving more slowly.

      I think that the reporters are citing a technicality which may be true. Despite the impending arrival of Opal, I cannot find evidence that a tropical storm warning was official issued for the greater Atlanta metropolitan area — but Irma is certainly not the first tropical storm to affect the area.

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