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We hope you are having a wonderful day this Thursday, September 13th. Overnight last night, Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category 2 storm. Despite this, Florence is probably more dangerous than at its earlier stronger intensity. The storm has increased in size to the point that tropical storm force winds extend over 200 miles from the center.

Florence is expected to make landfall near the North Carolina-South Carolina border tomorrow afternoon, but the impacts of the storm will start to be felt in that area as early as this morning. There have been mandatory evacuation orders for many areas along the coast of North and South Carolina. It is imperative that you and your loved ones evacuate if located in any of the evacuation zones; check with your local authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Hurricane Florence’s track has changed quite a bit since our last detailed update. For the last day or so the model runs have been skimming Florence south along the coast after making (or nearly making) landfall in North Carolina. This change is due to a new high pressure over the Southeastern US that the models have only recently picked up on. This new high pressure steers the hurricane southwest from its landfall position. This is a very strange track for a hurricane, and it comes with significant uncertainty. The strength and location of these weak steering currents are very hard for the models to pick up on. After an uncertainty is the overall distance Florence will cover along the coast before turning north by Sunday. 

This new change in the forecast means Athens and the surrounding areas are more likely to see the effects from the inland storm on Sunday and possibly Monday. This is not a reason to panic, however. The strength of Florence, if it makes it to our area, will be much weaker than it currently is, because hurricanes weaken once they move inland. The National Hurricane Center expects Florence to be a tropical depression with sustained winds of less than 40 mph by the time it moves near or into north Georgia Sunday evening. In Athens, the greatest danger will likely be either from heavy rains including possible flash floods, and/or from falling trees knocking down power lines.

To be on the safe side, we suggest to have supplies of food that you can eat without power, bottled water, and flashlights with batteries. And listen to local authorities for any advisories, watches, or warnings. Lastly, be smart and avoid buying milk; it’s normally the first thing in your refrigerator to go bad when the power goes out!

We will continue to provide updates on Florence’s possible visit to the Classic City throughout the weekend.