Hurricane Dorian brought car-rocking winds and lashing rain to this popular Georgia barrier island Wednesday afternoon, but it caused no major flooding and failed to shut down Highway 80.
“That tide we were expecting to be bad at 1 p.m. was about two feet less than the National Weather Service anticipated, so that was good,” said Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman, who added he had not received reports of major damage. “The road didn’t close. I think that is a function of the storm going a little slower than they expected.”
But Tybee is not yet in the clear.
“The tide we are worried about is the one tonight,” the mayor said. “Hopefully, this thing doesn’t wobble our way a little bit.”
The wind and rain drew a steady stream of camera-toting sightseers to the beach Wednesday. Brett Lay of Tybee Island and James Simpson of Savannah snapped photos of the angry sea firing whitecaps at the public pier and wrecking the island’s man-made dunes. Lay’s home has twice been flooded by hurricanes.
“I’m hoping and praying that it doesn’t flood my house again,” said Lay, an industrial equipment salesman.
Chatham County warned Wednesday morning of the possibility of tropical storm-force winds of up to 65 mph and three- to five-foot storm surges from Dorian. The southeast Georgia coastal county — it includes Savannah and Tybee Island — could also see up to eight inches of rain.
Earlier Wednesday, Buelterman repeated his call for people to evacuate Georgia’s coast.
“If this storm wobbles a little bit west, we can be in a situation that is probably analogous to what happened with Hurricane Matthew,” he said. “The window of opportunity to leave Tybee is rapidly closing.”
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wednesday afternoon that Dorian is moving north-northwest at 9 mph and packing winds near 105 mph. Its core will move parallel to the Florida and Georgia coasts through tonight, according to the center.
“Chatham County remains under a Hurricane Watch, Flash Flood Watch, Storm Surge Warning, and Tropical Storm Warning,” the county said in a statement Wednesday morning. “This means the conditions are favorable for tornadoes and tropical storm-force winds.”
Return to ajc.com for updates.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include new details about the hurricane Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman provided during an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday afternoon.
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