Another hurricane might be headed toward the Athens area.
But Nate probably won’t be as powerful as Irma, forecasters say.
However, with waters in the Gulf of Mexico several degrees warmer than normal, the storm could strengthen as it collides with the Gulf Coast, and even a weaker storm can spawn deadly tornadoes.
Now a tropical storm, Nate’s winds are expected to reach hurricane levels before the storm’s likely landfall Sunday morning somewhere between Louisiana and Florida’s northwest coast.
“Nate is likely to bring heavy rain, tropical storm force winds and some isolated tornadoes to the region, especially in areas to the right of the path of the central circulation,” reported University of Georgia climatologist Pam Knox in her “Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast” blog.
Last month, Tropical Storm Irma knocked down hundreds of trees across power lines, roads and some structures. Thousands in the Athens area were without power, some for days, and it took work crews multiple days to clear all area roads.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s projected path, Nate will veer north and east once it reaches the U.S. coast, likely somewhere near New Orleans. The center of the cone of probability has its center reaching north Alabama at about 2 a.m. Monday and up into northern West Virginia 24 hours later.
“Some areas in Alabama and western Georgia that received minimal impacts from Irma could see stronger winds and rain in this storm just due to the relative paths of the storms,” Knox wrote.
As of Thursday morning, the cone of probability map also carries the storm through the northern part of Georgia. The probability cone only shows the likely path of the storm center. Storm impacts are in a much broader area than that cone.
The National Weather Service’s Peachtree City weather station predicts, as of Thursday morning, “heavy rain and gusty winds” as Nate passes through.
Athens could get days of rain as Nate heads up the East Coast, according to the National Weather Service area forecast.
There’s 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday, mainly after 2 p.m., a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday night, and a 70 percent chance of showers and possible thunderstorms Sunday. The rain and thunderstorm probability decreases to 60 percent on Monday and 30 percent on Tuesday.
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