Hurricane Irma's track has shifted west, with Middle Georgia in its path
MACON, Ga. -- Hurricane Irma is projected to reach middle Georgia as a tropical storm by Monday night.
Irma has weakened slightly since it passed by Puerto Rico--it is now a category four storm. This storm is still packing winds of over 150 mph, so it is a strong category four. It will continue to decrease in power as it makes its way to Miami, but again this is still a major hurricane that could bring over a foot of rain to the south Florida coast.
The storm won't impact Middle Georgia until Monday, and there's still a good deal of uncertainty. The exact location of the storm at any given time is expected to vary within the wider forecast cone. Irma is projected to be a tropical storm when it reaches Georgia on Monday afternoon.
There is good news when it comes to Hurricane Irma's path for Middle Georgia. The biggest takeaway is that the storm is projected to spend a lot of time over land before it reaches Macon. That means it will be dying quickly as it moves between Miami and Macon.
However, Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the state of emergency to cover 64 additional counties Friday afternoon, including Bibb County.
The counties covered under a state of emergency as of Friday are as follows: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Baldwin, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Bleckley, Brantley, Brooks, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Chattahoochee, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquitt, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Grady, Harris, Houston, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Lamar, Lanier, Laurens, Lee, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, McIntosh, Meriwether, Miller, Mitchell, Monroe, Montgomery, Muscogee, Peach, Pierce, Pike, Pulaski, Quitman, Randolph, Schley, Screven, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Tattnall, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Troup, Turner, Twiggs, Upson, Ware, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkinson and Worth Counties.
There is no consensus on rainfall totals in Middle Georgia. We have seen forecasts including amounts ranging from 0.5-4" of rain.
One thing we are almost certain of in Georgia is the wind. We are likely to see wind gusts of upwards of 50-60 mph on Monday if the storm stays on its projected path. This is due to not only the tropical system, but also the strong center of high pressure that will be stalled out over the Tennessee Valley to start out next week.
The track has shifted slightly since Thursday. If the storm goes straight up through Florida passing Orlando and Lake City, we can expect the higher rain totals and higher wind speeds. Another projection is that the storm may move closer to Savannah. If that is the case we can expect less rain, but still see strong wind gusts around 30-50 mph.
There is still a chance Hurricane Irma could hug the coast and stay in the Atlantic ocean. If Irma follows this path we won't see much more than an inch of rain, but the wind gust will still be high on Monday
As the storm gets closer and closer, we'll have a much better understanding of the situation. We will keep you updated with the latest forecast.
For a list of school closures, click here.