SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As a strong area of low-pressure swings through the southeastern states this weekend, some portions of the region will have to deal with snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are not among those areas.
However, this storm system is something to keep an eye on if you have any travel plans that take you to the north Georgia mountains, the Upstate of South Carolina, or most of North Carolina. Even if you have to change planes at the major airport hubs of Atlanta and Charlotte, you’ll want to stay weather-aware.
Coastal Empire & Lowcountry Storm Reports
While this system quickly swung through our community this morning, the rain was heavy. At the Savannah Airport, we received 1.46″ of rain in 6 hours. We have also received storm reports of several roads with minor flooding in Savannah.
- Minor flooding on President Streen and Islands Expressway east and west bound in multiple areas. Roadways are still passable.
- Minor flooding on Bay Street, just east of the Viaduct.
- Flooding at the intersection of Abercorn and Columbus.
For the rest of the afternoon, as the rain tapers off in the Lowcountry, our attention then turns to the wicked winds following behind the cold front. A wind advisory is in effect until 1am Monday morning. Expect a strong southwesterly wind between 20-30 mph and wind gusts as high as 40-45 mph. Given the soaked soil, downed trees and powerlines remain a possibility through tonight.
Winds have already done damage this morning as they snapped a large tree in Isle of Hope at the intersection of Norwood Avenue and Breezy Palm Way. Another report from Chatham County Emergency Management reported a tree down on power lines in the 400 block of Staley Avenue.
Where is winter weather expected?
The primary area where winter weather is expected will be to the north of the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. Generally speaking, this threat area is along and north of Interstate 20, which runs from Atlanta, through Augusta and Columbia, to Florence, South Carolina. Anywhere north of I-20 will likely have issues with freezing rain and sleet.
Farther north into the mountains of North Georgia, the Upstate of South Carolina and western North Carolina will be dealing with the possibility of heavy snow. This will especially be true in the higher elevations of North Carolina. Over a foot of snow is not out of the question for those areas.
Areas along and north of I-20 will also face the threat of prolonged power outages because of heavy snow and ice-covered trees falling on powerlines. If there is enough snow or ice accumulation, power lines may fall under their own weight.
What kind of travel issues are expected?
Areas along and north of I-20 that receive sleet and freezing rain can expect very slippery roads once it begins to stick. Bridges and overpasses cool off much faster than roadways on solid ground. Extra caution must be used when approaching any bridges, even if the road is just wet.
Any areas receiving snow will also face slippery roads and as a result, many may be closed in the areas impacted.
It is likely that there will be major delays with the airlines in Atlanta and Charlotte Saturday night and into Sunday afternoon. Be sure to check with your carrier about any potential issues.
If you do not have to travel to the areas receiving the most winter precipitation, delay your trip or reschedule it. This is especially true for individuals who do not have experience driving in winter weather.
What is the forecast for Savannah and Hilton Head?
While the rain is tapering off, our main concern through Sunday afternoon will be the strong winds. Wind gusts up to 40-45 mph will be possible in the wake of the cold front. Strong winds mixed with the wet ground could lead to the possibility of downed trees and powerlines through the afternoon.
After lunchtime, the steady rain will taper off and colder and drier air will surge southward. Conditions will be breezy and gusty at times with a NW wind of 20-25 mph. Wind gusts will be as high as 45 mph.
The good news for us is that the coldest air will not move in until after the rain has ended in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. This is the main reason we expect only rain.
By Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), conditions will be dry and cold. Highs will just be in the 50s and by Tuesday morning is when freezing temperatures are possible.