UPDATE: S.Ga. readies for hurricane

Aug. 29—VALDOSTA — South Georgia waited Tuesday to see how much of a blast Hurricane Idalia would make in the region.

The storm was approaching northern Florida early Tuesday, picking up steam and threatening to come ashore as a Category 3 (111-129 miles per hour) hurricane. Landfall was expected in the morning hours of Wednesday; Idalia was expected to track up through South Central Georgia by early Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The early midmorning hours were expected to bring the worst weather to the Valdosta area, said Jasmine Montgomery, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Tallahassee, Fla., office.

She said the outer bands of the hurricane could reach Lowndes County by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

While tropical storm-force winds of up to 40 mph were expected, the region could get hurricane-force winds (74 mph and up), depending on the exact storm track, Montgomery said.

Lowndes, Lanier and Brooks counties were under a hurricane warning Tuesday, while much of the rest of South Central Georgia, including Tifton, was under a tropical storm warning.

Meteorologists expected anywhere from three to eight inches of rain in South Georgia, with more possible in isolated spots, the weather service said in a statement. Rain chances Wednesday for Valdosta stood at 100% for an all-day soaker.

A flood watch was in effect for most of South Central Georgia through Wednesday evening, the weather service said.

No shelters had been opened in Lowndes County by the American Red Cross as of Tuesday morning. Likewise, no evacuations in the county had been planned, the county said in a statement.

Sheriff Ashley Paulk said the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office noticed a slight uptick in traffic from Florida Monday. Many Florida counties along the I-75 corridor, which leads into Lowndes County, are under evacuation orders.

In Lowndes County, non-jury trials scheduled for Wednesday have been moved to Sept. 27, according to the court's website.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.