by Robin Kemp

The National Weather Service says Hurricane Zeta will push into the North Georgia mountains from the Gulf of Mexico. Clayton County and surrounding areas are beginning to get rain as of 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28.

A tropical storm warning until 11 a.m. Thursday and a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Thursday are in effect.

NWS’ Peachtree City office predicts maximum wind gusts between 50 and 60 miles per hour on Thursday. Residents are advised to finish any last-minute preparations like securing items that might blow around in high winds immediately.

The Panhandle of Clayton County is expected to get half to an inch of rain, with the rest of Clayton County and the Southern Crescent looking at up to an inch and a half.

Clayton County Emergency Management Director Landry Merkison warned people should expect “heavy rainfall…along and north of the I-85 corridor today, and into this evening as well on Thursday. Widespread rain in the amount of 2 inches to 4 inches with locally higher amounts will be possible for those within the Flash Flood Watch, especially along and north of the I-85 corridor.”

Merkison added that rainfall “could be higher than forecasted” and that people should look out for gusty winds, both as Zeta passes over and within stronger showers and embedded thunderstorms.

“With already saturated grounds from previous rainfall, periods of heavy rainfall may lead to localized flash flooding and flooding of rivers and streams,” Merkison warned.

Because leaves are already falling from trees, Merkison said they could clog up drains and worsen flooding in low-lying areas.

One of those low-lying areas notorious for flooding is the train trestle on Forest Parkway near the Farmers Market. Public Works Director Bobby Jinks recently said work in the area prevented flooding there for the first time in over three decades.

Driving conditions

The storm presents some of the worst possible driving conditions.

  • Motorists are advised to take seriously the warning, “Turn around, don’t drown.” What may appear to be a puddle could disguise a sinkhole big enough to swallow a person or vehicle.
  • It only takes a few inches of water to float a large SUV.
  • Do not drive so fast that your tires throw up “fishtails” of water. These can blind other motorists, drench pedestrians, and push floodwaters into homes.
  • Drive slower than the posted speed limit in adverse conditions.
  • Do not drive with your hazard lights on.
  • If it’s raining too hard for you to see the road, pull off in a safe place, turn on your blinkers, stay in your car, and wait until you can see well enough to drive again.
  • Do not go sightseeing after a storm. Rubbernecking puts you in danger amid downed power lines, weakened roadbeds, or you or other motorists losing control.

The Clayton Crescent is seeking information about how the weather might affect early voting Thursday. We’ll update when we hear back from the county.

As a precaution, the Clayton County Tax Commissioners Office, including the Property Tax and Motor Vehicle Divisions, says it will open at 11 a.m. on Thursday, October 29.

For the latest, most authoritative weather updates, listen to your NOAA Weather Radio, visit the National Weather Service forecast page at https://www.weather.gov/ffc/, follow @NWSAtlanta on Twitter, watch your local broadcast meteorologists, or download these free apps:

For Clayton County’s forecast and all the latest hazardous weather statements, visit https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=GAZ055.

For Fulton County, visit https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=33.7902&lon=-84.4671#.X5oDvy2ZNhE

For Dekalb County, visit https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=33.7715&lon=-84.2264#.X5oDnS2ZNhE

You also can enter your zip code in the search box on the upper left side of your county forecast page.

Because of ongoing technical issues with our NOAA Weather widget, The Clayton Crescent will take down the widget until the danger is past and embed NWS Atlanta’s Twitter feed directly.

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