Showers, storms moving toward metro Atlanta

Showers, some possibly heavy, were beginning to pop up around metro Atlanta on Saturday afternoon with radar showing the heaviest west and south of Atlanta.

There were intermittent ground stops in place for flights to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport due to thunderstorms, and late in the day weather was causing arrival delays between 16 minutes and 30 minute and increasing.

The National Weather Service has issued severe thunderstorm warnings for southwestern Carroll County, eastern Rabun County  and northwestern Heard County in west-central Georgia. Radar showed a severe thunderstorm capable of producing quarter-sized hail.

The showers will provide a break from the stifling heat that has pounded metro Atlanta.

Channel 2 Action News meteorologist David Chandley says temperatures will again exceed 90 degrees this weekend but a ridge of high pressure has weakened and that will trigger showers. Temperatures could fall back into the 80s for a brief period if the storms move over your area, he said.

"Each  storm is capable of heavy downpours, gusty winds and lightning," Chandley said Saturday.  "The severe storm threat is low, but damaging wind is still a possibility."

The lack of rain in recent weeks is beginning to show in the level of Lake Lanier, but not so much at Lake Allatoona, the metro area’s other major reservoir. Lanier’s level on Friday of 1,068.64 feet above sea level was 2.36 feet below full pool. The level has been dropping this week at a rate of about an inch per day. Allatoona, however, was only 6 inches below the full pool level on Friday.

The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon with highs in the lower 90s. It will be mostly cloudy tonight with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, then partly cloudy after midnight.

Chandley expects a weak cold front to our north on Sunday and says the thunderstorm risk will be higher Sunday afternoon.

But a return to 90-plus temperatures is expected next week. "Drier air is expected the first of the week with highs again in the lower 90s," Chandley  said.

Metro Atlanta's  air quality remains unhealthy for sensitive groups. Children, people who are sensitive to ozone, and people with heart or lung disease should limit prolonged outdoor exertion during the late afternoon or early evening when ozone concentrations are highest, according to the state Environmental Protection Division.

If the storms move over your area expect temps to fall back into the 80s for a brief period.

Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report