With Hurricane Nate churning quickly toward a Saturday evening landfall along the Gulf Coast, its current projected track after moving inland would appear to bode well for Columbus in terms of high winds and rainfall.
Still, much of the Chattahoochee Valley, specifically east-central Alabama and north to LaGrange, Ga., remains under a tropical storm watch issued by the National Weather Service until early Sunday morning. That includes Russell and Lee counties in Alabama, as well as Troup and Meriwether counties in Georgia. The tropical storm watch could be extended or removed at any time based on developing weather conditions.
The National Hurricane Center, in its 4 p.m. CDT/5 p.m. EDT advisory, is now projecting Nate to possibly clip the barrier islands of southeast Louisiana before reaching land in the vicinity of Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., Saturday night.
The storm would then venture north slightly in Mississippi before curving to the northeast and passing through central to north Alabama. Nate’s rapid speed likely means that tropical storm conditions will be felt deep into northeast Alabama before destructive wind speeds diminish into a lower-grade tropical depression.
The advisory by the National Hurricane Center has a probability strike cone with a center track that now has what will become Tropical Storm Nate moving over Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., then into eastern Tennessee before continuing a northeast direction toward the Northeast U.S.
The more westerly landfall of the hurricane and its subsequent movement as a tropical storm farther away from Columbus and Muscogee County is a possible indication that much of the local area will see rain and possible thunderstorms, along with gusty winds, but nothing near tropical storm force.
The National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, Ga., now is forecasting showers and possible thunderstorms Sunday and Sunday night for Columbus, with a quarter to half-inch of rainfall possible Sunday. Winds Sunday will be 10 to 15 mph, the forecast says, with gusts up to 25 mph. The wind levels are expected to drop into Sunday evening, with gusts no more than 15 mph.
On the other hand, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Ala., currently is forecasting showers and possible thunderstorms Sunday and Sunday night in Auburn, Ala., with 1 to 2 inches of rain possible during the day. According to its tropical storm watch, there could be winds of 20 to 30 mph in Auburn and Opelika on Sunday, gusting up to 40 mph. Tropical storm winds range from between 39 mph and 73 mph.
Aside from Russell and Lee counties, the current tropical storm watch in Alabama also includes the counties of Barbour, Bullock and Chambers. A wind advisory also is in effect from 7 p.m. CDT Saturday until 10 p.m. CDT Sunday.
The tropical storm watches issued by the National Weather Service include portions of north Alabama and north Georgia, with the Atlanta metro area also in that area of concern. A tropical storm warning includes much of Alabama up to its northeast corner, to include Fort Payne, then into far northwest Georgia, to include Rome.