Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane packing sustained winds of 145 mph. It is possible that it could reach Category 5 strength prior to landfall. This is the strongest storm to ever impact this particular area of the Gulf Coast in recorded history (since 1851).
The impacts forecasted for our area remain relatively unchanged. Most of the county is at risk of seeing wind gusts up to 73mph but the extreme Northwest corner of the County is shaded as possibly seeing gusts up to 85 mph. This would be the Hahira area and points north and west of there. The forward motion of the storm has not really picked up as expected so the timing for Tropical Storm conditions has slowed and we are now looking at approximately 2PM as being the time we expect the beginning of Tropical Storm Force winds to first arrive in Lowndes County.
The tornado threat for Lowndes County is categorized as Elevated. Since our area is forecast to be in what is termed the “right front quadrant” of the storm, there is an increased risk of being impacted by tornadoes that may develop from the approaching severe weather. Tornados can form anywhere within a storm, but the northeast area tends to produce the most tornadic activity. Based on the current forecast, Lowndes County’s tornado threat increases significantly by tomorrow afternoon. Citizens are encouraged to remain aware of their surroundings during periods of severe weather. Know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch indicates conditions are favorable, a warning means tornadic activity has been identified. In the event of a tornado warning, seek shelter away from windows and outside walls or doors.
The current forecast indicates Michael will bring 3-4 inches of rain to the area. Citizens should expect periods of heavy rainfall. While river flooding is not expected at this time, flash flooding from heavy rain during a short period of time is a legitimate concern. Citizens should avoid flooded roads, streets, and bridges. Significant infrastructure damage could exist under floodwaters. Crossing flooded areas could result in injury or loss of life. Do not put yourself or emergency responders in danger. Flash flood waters recede fairly quickly. A brief delay in travel could save a life.
Park Avenue United Methodist Church 100 E Park Ave, remains open for those without adequate shelter (homeless, mobile homes, substandard housing) and those who may have medically necessary electrical equipment. Citizens planning to seek shelter should do so now. Once severe weather begins to impact our area, citizens should shelter in place.
Projected wind speeds are not favorable for those staying in recreational vehicles. If you are in a motor home or recreational vehicle, please seek shelter in a more permanent shelter.
CURFEWS & EVACUATIONS
No curfews have been issued for Lowndes County, nor are there expected to be any. In addition, no evacuation orders have been issued at this time. Local law enforcement continues to encourage everyone to stay off roadways for the duration of the storm.
All of the local public and private K-12 schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. An assessment will be made Thursday as to whether or not they will open on Friday. All of the local colleges (VSU, GMC, Wiregrass) are also closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Please remember local ordinances require pets to be kept safe during periods of severe weather. In the event pets cannot be brought inside, pet owners are still responsible for providing a safe shelter.
Lowndes County Emergency Management will continue to monitor conditions as Hurricane Michael develops. In the event severe weather results in downed trees and power lines, citizens should be prepared to sustain themselves for a three-day period. Supplies such as bottled water, non-perishable food items, prescription medications, flashlights, batteries, infant supplies, cleaning supplies, first aid items, etc., should be on hand. For preparedness checklists visit www.ready.ga.gov.
As with any response, communication remains key. Emergency Management Officials would like to remind citizens in Lowndes County that the Tallahassee Division of the National Weather service is the official government weather source for our area. In addition, citizens are encouraged to sign up for CodeRed, Lowndes County’s free emergency notification system, by visiting www.lowndescounty.com, and clicking on the CodeRed icon. Emergency Management will use CodeRed for specific messaging and citizens may opt in to receive weather warnings directly from the National Weather Service. In the event other communication options fail, citizens are should have a working, NOAA weather radio. Citizens may also follow Lowndes County Emergency Management on Facebook by liking, EMA Lowndes.
CITY OF VALDOSTA
There will be no sanitation services on Wednesday, October 10. Wednesday and Thursday will be collected on Thursday, October 11. The City’s “See-Click-Fix” app can be used to report public property issues within the city limits.
Additional information will be released as it becomes available. Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information.