SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – As a strong area of low pressure moves through the southeastern states this weekend, parts of the region will face snow, sleet and freezing rain. The Coastal Empire and the Lowcountry are not among these regions.
However, this storm system is something to watch out for if you have travel plans that take you into the mountains of northern Georgia, northern South Carolina, or most of North Carolina. Even if you need to change planes at the major airport hubs of Atlanta and Charlotte, you’ll want to stay informed about the weather.
Coastal Empire and Low Country Storm Reports
While this system quickly swept through our community this morning, the rain was heavy. At Savannah Airport we received 1.46″ of rain in 6 hours. We also received storm reports on several roads with minor flooding in Savannah.
- Minor flooding on President Streen and Islands Expressway eastbound and westbound in several areas. The roads are still passable.
- Minor flooding on Bay Street just east of the overpass.
- Flooding at the intersection of Abercorn and Columbus.
For the rest of the afternoon, as the rain subsides in the Lowcountry, our attention then turns to the wicked winds following behind the cold front. A wind advisory is in effect until 1 a.m. Monday morning. Expect strong winds from the southwest between 20 and 30 mph and wind gusts of up to 40 to 45 mph. Given the soggy ground, downed trees and power lines remain a possibility through tonight.
Winds have already done damage this morning snapping a large tree in Isle of Hope at the intersection of Norwood Avenue and Breezy Palm Way. Another report from Chatham County Emergency Management noted a tree fell on power lines in the 400 block of Staley Avenue.
Where is winter weather expected?
The main area where wintry weather is expected will be north of the Coastal Empire and the Lowcountry. Broadly 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 there will likely be problems with freezing rain and sleet.
Further north in the mountains of North Georgia, northern South Carolina and western North Carolina will face the possibility of heavy snowfall. This will be especially true in the high elevations of North Carolina. More than a foot of snow is not out of the question for these regions.
Areas along and north of I-20 will also face the threat of extended power outages due to heavy snow and ice-covered trees falling on power lines. If there is enough snow or ice, power lines can fall under their own weight.
What types of travel issues are expected?
Areas along and north of I-20 that receive sleet and freezing rain can expect very slippery roads once they start to stick. Bridges and overpasses cool much faster than pavements on solid ground. Extra care should be taken when approaching bridges, even if the road is simply wet.
Any areas receiving snow will also face slippery roads and as a result many may be closed in affected areas.
It is likely that there will be significant airline delays in Atlanta and Charlotte on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Be sure to check with your carrier for any potential issues.
If you don’t have to go to the areas that receive the most winter precipitation, delay your trip or reschedule it. This is especially true for people who are inexperienced in winter driving.
What’s the forecast for Savannah and Hilton Head?
As the rain subsides, our main concern through Sunday afternoon will be strong winds. Wind gusts up to 40-45 mph will be possible in the wake of the cold front. Strong winds mixed with wet ground could lead to the possibility of downed trees and power lines throughout the afternoon.
After lunchtime, the steady rain will lessen and colder, drier air will sweep south. Conditions will be windy and gusty at times with a northwest wind of 20-25 mph. Wind gusts will reach 45 mph.
The good news for us is that the coldest air won’t come in until after the rain ends in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. This is the main reason why we are only expecting rain.
By Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), conditions will be dry and cold. Highs will be right in the 50s and Tuesday morning is when freezing temperatures are possible.