UPDATE: Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency.
First off, I want to say unequivocally that NE Georgia will not get a hurricane. However, some effects from a weakening storm - primarily rain - are now possible.
Hurricane Florence continues to move towards the Carolina coastline at this hour as a potentially devastating category 4 storm. The forecast track from the National Hurricane Center in Miami has been fairly straightforward until late last night when the new global hurricane models began to come in. Now, the forecast - including the point of landfall - is quite uncertain. The 5 A.M. Wednesday advisory from NHC still has a Carolina coastline landfall with Florence generally moving in a due westerly direction and slowing down. This is a significant shift from just 24 hours ago...and the forecast could (and probably will) continue to evolve.
By now, I’m sure most of you have been keeping up with the progress of Florence, either through television media or various websites (NHC, tropicaltidbits, Wunderground, etc.). The Weather Channel has approximately 1,740 meteorologists positioned from Savannah to Cape Cod. This might be the most “covered” hurricane in history. I digress...
Last night’s more reliable runs of the global forecast models have now hinted at a more westward shift of Florence when it eventually makes landfall, including the excellent ECMWF (Euro) and the ensemble members of this model (EPS), which takes many different “hypothetical” runs or scenarios of the same storm, and then averages them into a single product. The results of these new model outputs are a more westward track. The National Hurricane Center official forecast (a.k.a. “The Cone”) is not a model, but a forecast based on many models and then analyzed and scrutinized by a team of excellent forecasters. Having seen this process in person, I can tell you that it is intense. The men and women at NHC want to get this right for every storm, and especially when lives are at stake.
With the uncertainty in the track forecast, the possibility now exists that some wet weather could affect NE Georgia at some point this weekend. As of this writing, it appears that any significant rain - IF what is left of Florence (weak tropical depression or remnant low pressure) moves far enough west, could impact Saturday night’s game when MTSU visits Georgia. Also, as of this hour, it would appear that rain impacts would be later in the weekend. It is a fluid situation.
Florence has already caused the cancellation of three games in Virginia and the Carolinas. It is just too soon to tell if more cancellations are in order elsewhere in the southeastern United States, or if some games will simply be impacted by the fringe effects of a once mighty hurricane in a few days, including our game in The Classic City.
Stay tuned. We’ll leave this open with updates throughout. Feel free to chime in (hey, everybody loves talkin’ weather...but no one does anything about it!).
Prayers and positive thoughts for those who will be directly impacted by wind, storm surge and heavy rain to the east of us.