UPDATE as of 5 pm: Sally is now a cat 2 hurricane. Rainfall amounts have now increased and large parts of northern GA are expected to get 6-10 inches. I have updated the maps to 5 pm.
Last Friday, we did not even have a named storm near the US. Now Tropical Storm Sally is bearing down on the Southeast and is expected to become a hurricane by tonight. It is expected to be a category 2 hurricane by the time it makes landfall just east of New Orleans sometime on Tuesday. Sally is moving very slowly, which means lots of time for storm surge to develop and for winds to cause damage.
Fortunately for us in Georgia, most of that won’t affect us. Our major impact will be rain. In some areas, LOTS of rain. In western and northern Georgia, some areas could receive 4-6 inches as the storm slowly wanders and dissipates to our west and then moves back over Georgia as a post-tropical depression later this week. It would not surprise me if a few areas in the mountains got more than that. Everywhere in the state can expect to receive at least 1-2 inches over the next five days. The western half of the state does have a chance of seeing some gusty winds, which could start as early as today but are more likely to start on Tuesday. With the saturated soil, that means any wind is more likely to blow over trees, leading to power outages and damage to roofs and buildings. Bring in loose outdoor items just in case. Some scattered severe weather is also possible but will not be widespread.
You can follow updates at the National Hurricane Center at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/. Don’t focus on the center of the forecast cone. With slow-moving storms, the direction is very uncertain. Rain will spread far out from the center anyway.
At the same time that we are watching Sally, there are six other areas of interest in the Atlantic. Hurricane Paulette made landfall on Bermuda this morning. Rene is dying in the central Atlantic. Tropical Storm Teddy was named this morning in the eastern Atlantic (fortunately it is not expected to approach the US). Tropical Depression 21 just formed west of the Azores. And another wave just moved off of Africa and is expected to develop in the next week. In spite of that, once Sally is gone, I expect things to quiet down here in the Southeast and we can expect some cooler weather next week, too.