Tropical Storm Ida threatens midstate

Middle Georgians could face possible flash flooding from heavy rain expected to pound parts of the state, courtesy of Tropical Storm Ida.

The first rains from the storm were expected to hit overnight, though the bulk of the storm is expected to come through today, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Laura Griffith, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said Middle Georgia could receive 3 to 5 inches of rain through Wednesday, though some parts of the state could be deluged with 6 or 7 inches, depending on which direction the storm takes.

“(Today) is when it will be the most heavy,” she said. “The flash flood watch will go until Wednesday. Things should start evening out after Wednesday.”

LaTravius Smith, interim director of the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency, said she and her team are tracking the storm but don’t think there will be enough rain to cause the Ocmulgee River to rise above its flood stage of 18 feet.

“We want drivers to be aware of safety issues,” she said. “But I don’t think there will be enough rain to make it to the flood stage. ... If it rains beyond Wednesday, we might see some minor flooding.”

Griffith said Ida, which has lost strength since it was a hurricane as late as Monday morning, was expected to make landfall near Mobile, Ala.

The center of the storm was expected to be somewhere between Tallahassee, Fla., and southwestern Georgia, with Middle Georgia and northern Georgia seeing more than its fair share of rain.

However, she said, the rain levels aren’t expected to be as torrential as the downpours that hit the midstate in September, which caused the Ocmulgee to flood.

Overall, it’s been a been a rainy year in the midstate, which has had 48.72 inches through the end of October. That total already surpasses last year’s entire total of 48.14 inches and has made for the wettest year since 2003, when Macon received 54.88 inches of rain.

Though it’s late in the hurricane season, Griffith said storms hitting in mid-November aren’t all that rare.

“The peak of hurricane season is September, but it’s not unusual to see a storm this late in the season,” she said. “The season goes through Nov. 30, so it’s fairly normal to see tropical activity.”

In addition to the rain, Griffith said residents can expect to see higher wind speeds, but the wind isn’t expected to be strong enough to cause tornadoes.

Because of the cloud cover, there won’t be much of a difference between the expected daily highs and lows in temperature, she said.

Griffith also said Middle Georgians can expect slightly higher-than-normal temperatures and more precipitation during the next eight to 14 days.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.