The current path of Hurricane Ian, which strengthened into a hurricane on Monday afternoon, is set to move through parts of Georgia on Thursday, with Coffee County possibly being impacted by high-speed winds and several inches of rain. Forecasters are expecting Ian to develop into a Category 4 hurricane by the time it reaches the Florida coast, with winds potentially reaching 160 mph.
At around 5:00 p.m., meteorologists with the National Hurricane Center reported Ian to be moving north-northwest at around 155 miles southeast of Cuba with winds up to 100 mph. A life-threatening storm surge of up to 14 feet of ocean water is predicted to occur in Cuba, with close to 50,000 residents being evacuated.
Tampa Bay is currently one of Ian's main targets and is expected to receive up to 15 inches of rain in parts of the area. This will be the bay's first direct hit from a hurricane in the last 100 years, according to national forecasters.
South Georgia, in the hurricane's current path, will likely start seeing tropical storm force winds as early as Wednesday. Coffee County is one of the many Southeast Georgia counties now under a tropical storm watch for the duration of the storm. Officials with the National Weather Service in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia warned of heavy rain, squalls, thunderstorms, and a possible significant rainfall threat with additional flood watches.
Steve Carver, Coffee County Emergency Management Director, told DouglasNow if Ian's path stays consistent, local impacts will likely include tropical storm winds, anywhere from 30 to 60 mph and a potential of 4 to 6 inches of rain.
On Monday afternoon, Coffee County School System Superintendent Dr. Morris Leis told DouglasNow they are continuing to monitor the path of Hurricane Ian, which will determine whether schools close later this week. Dr. Leis stated, "Safety is at the forefront of our decision-making, and we will provide updates as conditions change."
Governor Brian Kemp released a statement announcing that he had ordered the activation of the State Operations Center to prepare for any potential impact Ian may cause. The governor stated it was too soon to determine if a state of emergency in the entire state, or certain parts, would be declared ahead of Ian. The release states, "I urge my fellow Georgians to monitor this storm as it evolves and calmly take the necessary precautions to keep their families and neighbors safe if the storm continues to intensify. Throughout the week, I will work closely with GEMA/HS, the weather service, public safety organizations, and others to ensure we leave nothing to chance.”
DouglasNow will continue to publish stories throughout the week with updates and information regarding Hurricane Ian.
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