Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make its way through Georgia today, with much of the coast under a tropical storm warning. 

The National Weather Service anticipates 2 to 4 inches of rain, with isolated totals of 6 inches, and sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph across southeast Georgia. This could potentially bring the threat of flash and urban flooding, as well as tornadoes. 

Here in Savannah, tropical storm conditions are likely to be felt this afternoon through early Thursday. Heavy rain, gusty winds and isolated tornadoes are the most likely impacts, and rain could linger through Friday. Storm surge is anticipated to be limited. 

In Brunswick, impacts will likely be similar but will arrive this afternoon. Alec Eaton, Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director, told The Brunswick News on Tuesday that the storm will likely be north of Glynn County by sometime tonight. 

Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency affecting 92 counties in middle, south and southeast Georgia last night in preparation for the impacts of Elsa. The storm is expected to start weakening once it makes landfall and starts to move inland. Whatever you do today stay safe and don’t drive through water on the roads.


Glynn County residents can sign up for the county’s CodeRED emergency notification system here. Chatham County residents can sign up for the county’s CEMA Alerts hereDo it now while it’s fresh in your mind.

Every storm can have a dangerous side. Prior to arriving in Florida, Elsa killed at least three people as it sped through the Carribean, Yale Climate Connection reports. Two people were killed by collapsing walls in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, and one person was killed in St. Lucia, where agricultural damage was estimated at $12.5 million. On Sunday, Elsa passed north of Jamaica bringing severe flash flooding and road damage, and on Monday afternoon, the storm landed in central Cuba with 50 mph winds and eight inches of rain, but the country was spared from severe impacts.


As of yesterday afternoon, the Georgia Ports Authority says it is continuing to monitor Elsa, but the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick remain open and all gate and field activities will continue as usual.   


Elsa was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, the Associated Press reports, and is the earliest fifth-named storm on record. Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said Elsa also broke the record as the fastest-moving hurricane, clocking in at 31 mph early Saturday. 

As Grist reported after last year’s active hurricane season in the Atlantic, warming temperatures as a result of climate change are changing the way hurricanes behave. Not only are they intensifying more rapidly, lingering longer and growing wetter, but they’re also driving further inland and are maintaining their intensity longer over land. 


While Georgia won’t necessarily face the worst of Elsa’s impacts, the storm serves as a good reminder to have your hurricane preparedness kit ready to go, and to apply to the Hurricane Registry if needed. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency recommends having at least the following items in your kit:  

  • Water: at least 3 gallons per person, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food: at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Medication
  • Can opener 
  • A radio: battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • A first aid kit
  • A whistle (to signal for help)
  • Face masks (to help filter contaminated air) 
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Local maps


And finally, if you want a distraction from the storm, explore the Georgia Coast Atlas, an interactive project from Emory University’s Department of Environmental Sciences and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. It interweaves video, oral and written stories, and annotated maps to allow residents to explore the history, ecology and geography of Georgia’s coast. “The main aim of the Atlas is to show how special the Georgia coast is as a place,” says Anthony Martin, a professor of practice in environmental sciences. “Secondly, it documents how the region is rapidly changing.”

Thanks for reading the Elsa edition of Coast Watch. Stay safe as the storm passes. If you have ideas for us, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.

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Susan Catron is managing editor for The Current GA. She is based in Coastal Georgia and has more than two decades of experience in Georgia newspapers. Contact her at susan.catron@thecurrentga.org Susan...