Augusta isn’t expected to be affected until sometime this evening, but the lower Mississippi Valley has already been hit with fierce thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding. As of 5 a.m., the Storm Prediction Center had received more than 200 reports of severe weather and 30 reports of tornadoes in less than 24 hours. Experts said it’s still too early to know how many tornadoes touched down.
Storms developing this evening in Augusta “could be on the strong side,” Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County Emergency and Operations Management, said in an e-mail.
The chances for severe weather will continue to increase Tuesday and Wednesday. Meteorologists predict wind gusts up to 60 mph and possible flash flooding with 2.5-3 inches of rain expected to accumulate through Thursday. Updated details on the threat to Augusta will be released as the storm moves toward Georgia.
Another threat comes from the still-dangling limbs and weakened trees left over from the ice storm. Residents are advised to be prepared for power outages as a result of the storm.
In March, arborists told Chronicle reporters they predicted more limb loss in the coming months as warm weather awakens insect borers from hibernation. Wood borers and bark beetles are likely to invade evergreen trees, which release increased levels of organic compounds and ethanol under stress.
They estimated that 25-30 percent of the area’s pine and oak populations were lost in the February storm.
Residents are cautioned to prepare for the threat by checking flashlight batteries and weather radios, discussing severe-weather preparedness with family and friends, and looking for a safe room close to home, work or school.