Tropical Storm Nicole and major events downtown will impact traffic today

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Two major events downtown and a tropical storm will add to the usual Friday commute today.

Tropical Storm Nicole could bring up to 3 inches of rain to metro Atlanta, possibly knocking out power and snarling traffic on a busy Friday.

Rain was already trickling Thursday afternoon and more is on the way, along with the potential for 40 mph winds, according to the Channel 2 Action News weather team. Winds could topple tree limbs and power lines, so local utility companies are gearing up for the storm’s potential.

Nicole made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just south of Vero Beach, Florida, the National Hurricane Center reported early Thursday. It was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued toward Georgia.

Two people were killed in Orange County, Florida when they were electrocuted by a downed power line, according to local sheriff’s office.

Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, said Thursday it was preparing to respond to storm-related outages.

”The company is finalizing its storm preparations by securing additional resources and coordinating plans to restore power safely and as quickly as possible for its customers,” a statement read.

The American Red Cross of Georgia was also preparing to help those in the path of the storm, including opening an evacuation center in Brunswick.

“Our teams are working closely with partners, and communicating with our volunteers to be ready to provide aid, as needed,” Dee Dixon, regional chief executive officer for the agency, said in an emailed statement.

And while the rain threat forced some outdoor events to be canceled — including Marietta’s Veterans Day parade — the show will go on for two downtown events expected to bring large crowds to downtown Atlanta.

ExploreTropical Storm Nicole forces Veterans Day organizers to change or cancel events

A memorial service is planned for slain rapper Takeoff at noon Friday at State Farm Arena. Free tickets were offered to Georgia residents earlier this week but quickly ran out. The Migos rapper, born Kirsnick Khari Ball, died during a shooting at a Houston bowling alley on Nov. 1. Fans without tickets were being encouraged to drive downtown in an effort to control the traffic.

As that event should be wrapping up, concert-goers will begin heading to the neighboring venue Mercedes-Benz stadium, where Sheryl Crow, Lionel Richie and Billy Joel will be performing. The concert begins at 5:30 p.m.

“Due to other events around the stadium and the large crowd expected for the concert, fans should plan ahead and arrive early,” stadium officials advised those planning to attend. “Traffic will be very heavy around the stadium.”

For air travelers, the storm has already forced numerous flight cancellations as airports in both Florida and the Bahamas were closed in advance of Nicole’s arrival.

Atlanta-based Delta canceled nearly 150 of its Thursday flights, according to FlightAware.com. That includes more than 75 flights at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, many of them to and from Orlando and other airports in Florida.

While the storm risk should be manageable for metro Atlanta, Georgia beaches may not fair as well.

The U.S. Geological Survey said this week that the beaches and dunes of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina could be at risk from the storm. Earlier this year, Hurricane Ian did significant damage to beaches on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida.

Threats from Nicole include not only erosion but overwash when beaches and dunes are completely submerged by storm surge. Georgia’s coastline, which is much less developed than other East Coast states, is a popular attraction with its vast marshes and barrier islands.

— Staff writers J. Scott Trubey and Kelly Yamounchi contributed to this article.