The amount and timing of rain we get this week depends largely on the track and speed of likely Tropical Storm Idalia, which is gathering strength today near the Yucutan Peninsula and the west coast of Cuba. It is not yet a tropical storm but is expected to be declared one in the next day or two. Looking at the satellite imagery, I think it will be sooner rather than later. Idalia (pronounced ee-DAL-ya) is expected to move north through the eastern Gulf of Mexico and to make landfall sometime Tuesday or Wednesday along the northeastern coast of the Gulf in Florida. Because the storm is not well organized yet, there is a lot of uncertainty about exactly where and when the storm will go so it is important to get frequent updates if you are concerned about the wind and rain Idalia will bring.

For the next couple of days, most of the rain is likely to fall in northern GA and AL and the western Carolinas in association with a front that is moving towards us from the north. We hope that the front will bring some cooler and less humid air to that region, but it will also bring some showers. Starting on Monday, the focus will shift to Florida and then southern Georgia and up the East Coast starting on Tuesday. The QPF map of rain currently is showing the significant amount of rain expected from a storm track that moves southwest to northeast inland of the Georgia coast, but this is almost certain to change as the forecast for the storm’s track changes when we get new observations and updated model runs. In northern Georgia and in Alabama, you could see rain from Idalia or you could just get a few showers and some gusty winds. If the track is farther south and east, the biggest impacts will move east, closer to the Atlantic coast. But if the track shifts north and west, heavier rain and higher wind gusts will reach farther into areas away from the coast. The slower the storm moves across the hot water of the Gulf, the more intense it could become, so forecasters are watching the torm speed as well. Showers could last through the end of the week in the Carolinas as Idalia moves off to the northeast.