Hurricane Dorian

The likely path of Hurricane Dorian, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued an evacuation order due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian for six coastal Georgia counties. People east of Interstate 95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties were told to evacuate when the order went into effect at noon on Sept. 2.

Kemp declared a state of emergency for the above counties and an additional six counties – Brantley, Charlton, Effingham, Long, Pierce, and Wayne counties – on Aug. 29.

According to Kemp’s executive order, the National Hurricane Center expects Dorian “will produce excessive rainfall and damaging winds,” flooding, downed trees and power outages in Georgia. The storm system could “produce catastrophic impacts” to Georgia and throughout the southeast coastal U.S., the executive order said.

Dorian should not affect Athens on its current path, UGA geography professor James Marshall Shepherd said. The city may receive a “stray shower or thunderstorm” from the storm, but Athens residents should not expect anything worse as long as the storm stays on its current projected path.

In a worst-case scenario, people in coastal areas can expect weather similar to that which Hurricane Matthew produced when it hit the Georgia coast in 2016. The projected path for Dorian is further away from the coast than Matthew so its effects may not be as bad, Shepherd said. A best-case scenario would be tropical-storm-force winds, flooding and beach erosion for coastal counties.

Dorian is one of the strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin ever, and it is the strongest hurricane to hit the Bahamas, Shepherd said. The storm battered the islands for a day and a half.

“There have been some preliminary studies that suggest that as the climate warms these hurricanes are going to continue to stall or slow down when they get to the coast,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said Dorian’s slow behavior resembles that of Hurricane Harvey, which struck Houston in 2017, and Hurricane Florence, which hit the Carolinas in 2018.

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