Columbus residents in low-lying areas may see minor flash flooding this weekend as thunderstorms continue to move through the area.
Meteorologists are predicting that rain will continue through Saturday and will start to die down by Sunday, adding to the high amounts of precipitation received this month.
“We’re talking almost two inches for this month and we’re only five days into the month,” said WRBL TV3 Meteorologist Bob Jeswald. “By Sunday, it’ll get less and less, and we’ll get breaks here and there and see bits of sunshine.”
The larger-than-expected amount of rain received in in the first few days of July seems to echo 2013’s general weather pattern. So far this year, the area has received about 10 more inches of rain than expected. In June, the Columbus area recorded just over seven inches of rain, leaving the ground saturated and vulnerable to flash flooding.
“Coming off of a wet June, which we generally don’t have but we had over seven inches of rain, the grounds like a soaked sponge,” Jeswald said. “And what happens when you pour water on a soaked sponge? It just runs off somewhere else.”
Experts have called flash food watches in the Columbus area and flash flood warnings in parts of Troup County. Although a flash flood watch is in effect, most areas of the city will be unaffected, and any flooding that does occur will most likely not be severe.
“It’s not like Noah’s Ark is going to be necessary in town,” Jeswald said. “It’s a flash flood watch, so we’re watching for it. It’s not a certainty.”
Georgia Power representative Robert Watkins said the extra rain has not so far caused concern that the RiverWalk will flood.
“We opened two gates at Lake Oliver, which is not a high water event,” Watkins said. “Three is when we call the city and have to close the RiverWalk due to flooding.”
Despite watches for minor flash flooding, the unexpected rain fall has had several benefits. In addition to replenishing aquifers and aiding crops, it also led to the coolest Fourth of July on record. Thursday’s highest temperature was 76 degrees, four degrees cooler than the last record, which was set on July 4, 1994. Jeswald said this was caused in part by tropical weather patterns similar to 1994.
“We looked at what caused that temperature in 1994, and sure enough it was a tropical storm — Alberto,” Jeswald said. “It dumped off to the East, around Crisp County and Americus, and as a result we recorded a high of 80 degrees.”
Jeswald said citizens should drive carefully and beware of standing water because of the weather conditions.
“(Standing water) can wash a road away, it can wash the asphalt out from the road,” he said. “You never know how deep it is. It can look six inches deep, but someone could get in there, find out it’s a pothole and get stuck.”