Six Georgia Ports Authority neo-panamax ship-to-shore cranes work the container ship Cosco Development at the Port of Savannah, Friday, May 12, 2017, in Garden City, Ga. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News via AP)
Photo: Steve Bisson
Photo: Steve Bisson

Savannah and Brunswick ports prepare for Hurricane Irma

Georgia’s ports in Savannah and Brunswick are preparing for their second hurricane in the past year as Hurricane Irma threatens to pound the coast.

Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said his agency is taking part in briefings with state and federal emergency officials. The current forecasted track shows that hurricane force winds could reach Brunswick by Monday night or Tuesday morning, Lynch said, and Savannah by Tuesday afternoon or evening.

Link: Georgia prepares for Hurricane Irma traffic

The storm’s path is still uncertain and could shift as it marches toward the U.S. mainland.

But ports officials say it’s possible the storm could follow a similar path to Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina last October.

“We are taking this very, very seriously,” Lynch said of Irma.

Six Georgia Ports Authority neo-panamax ship-to-shore cranes work the container ship Cosco Development at the Port of Savannah, Friday, May 12, 2017, in Garden City, Ga. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News via AP)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s ports are vital cogs in the state’s logistics industry, and hundreds of thousands of jobs are tied in some way to the goods that flow in and out of the terminals each day.

“There’s still a chance this thing could turn and head back to the ocean, but the window for that is closing,” Lynch said. “It’s not a good forecast for Georgia right now.”

Matthew lashed Georgia’s coast, causing damage to buildings and flooding on the barrier islands, St. Marys and Savannah.

In this photo provided by the Georgia Port Authority, Georgia Ports Authority, neo-panamax ship to shore cranes start work on the container ship Cosco Development at the Port of Savannah, Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Garden City, Ga. (AP Photo/Georgia Port Authority, Stephen Morton)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lynch said ports officials were briefed by National Weather Service officials Wednesday afternoon. The center of the “cone of uncertainty,” put the monster storm on a path to pummel Georgia’s coast.

For now, Lynch said the ports expect to have normal operations through Friday before making emergency preparations for the storm.

Related coverage

Gov. Deal declares state of emergency for six coastal Georgia counties

Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Caribbean as a Category 5 storm

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