Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Anxious Region Awaits Ivan's Landfall; State Likely to Face Storm's Strong Side

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Anxious Region Awaits Ivan's Landfall; State Likely to Face Storm's Strong Side

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN BASINGER, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Unsure just how or if Hurricane Ivan will affect Georgia this week, state officials urged residents Monday to prepare for a weather event that may include massive power outages, numerous tornadoes and flooding rains.

"Given the size of this storm, we can't afford for anybody in Georgia to be complacent," said Lisa Ray, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. "The best course for everyone in Georgia is to prepare themselves and have disaster supplies handy."

Forecast models issued Monday evening showed Ivan coming ashore on Thursday morning and moving into the western parts of Georgia by Friday morning.

Although the storm will certainly weaken on land, Ivan could still be at tropical-storm status if it moves through Georgia, bringing sustained winds as strong as 50 mph throughout a large part of North Georgia, including Atlanta, Athens and Augusta, forecasters warned.

"I would be taking it seriously," said meteorologist Mike Leary of the National Weather Service's office in Peachtree City.

Leary added the storm is still more than two days away from landfall, meaning it could substantially weaken or drift farther to the west toward New Orleans or Biloxi, Miss.

But the bad news for Georgia is that most forecast models have the state on the eastern side of the storm's center, said state climatologist David Stooksbury, who is based at the University of Georgia in Athens.

"That's the side that will have the strongest winds. That's the side that will have the most rainfall, and that's the side that will have the most tornadoes," he said.

Stooksbury urged Georgians to ready themselves for Ivan's pass through the state as if a major ice storm were coming.

That means having plenty of food on hand that doesn't require cooking, refrigeration or freezing, as well as a supply of drinking water, flashlights, battery-powered lamps, prescription medications and extra cash, he said.

"We also encourage people to have a battery-powered radio to keep up with advisories," he said.

After a heavy drenching by the remnants of Hurricane Frances last week, much of the state's soil remained extremely damp this week as a weak low pressure area brought rains throughout the southern and eastern parts of the state Sunday and Monday. …

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