Heavy rains moved through the Metro on Wednesday evening causing isolated flooding and traffic problems. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Metro Atlanta storms cause flooding, house fires

Heavy rain caused flooding Wednesday afternoon in parts of downtown Atlanta, forcing some road closures, including several lanes of I-20 westbound. Some areas recorded more than an inch of rain as storms brought hail and intense lightning through the metro area, sparking several house fires.

Only one westbound lane was open at Capitol Avenue around 6 p.m., but all lanes re-opened later in the evening. More rain fell Wednesday night, with some areas reporting hail, Channel 2 Action News Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said.

Lightning was believed to be the cause of several house fires, including four homes and an apartment complex, in Gwinnett County, according to Capt. Tommy Rutledge with the county’s fire department. In Paulding County, cement from a gas station was blown into the air at the Kroger on Ridge Road. One person was injured in Cherokee County when a tree fell on a home.

The rain prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch for much of north Georgia, including most of metro Atlanta. The watch is in effect through 8 a.m. Thursday for areas of the state along and north of a line from Carrollton through Atlanta and Lawrenceville to Danielsville.

As much as a half-foot of rain fell across parts of northwest Georgia early Wednesday, flooding numerous roads as well as some buildings near Dalton.

A flash flood warning posted before daybreak for southern Catoosa, southern Murray, east-central Walker and Whitfield counties was allowed to expire at 9:30 a.m.

“Getting reports of many road closures and flooded structures, along with some stranded motorists this morning near the Dalton area and Whitfield County,” the Weather Service said. “Over 4 inches of rainfall fell quickly and some spots may have had 5 to 6 inches.”

The large area of rain had diminished and moved east into the northeast corner of the state by 7 a.m.

WTVC-TV in Chattanooga reported that the First Presbyterian Church in Dalton and a car dealership on North Glenwood Avenue were among the buildings flooded.

A roof collapsed at a carpet plant on 5th Avenue, and there was 6 inches of water inside the building, according to the station.

No injuries were reported.

Jeff Ownby, deputy director of the Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just before 7:30 a.m. that the high water had mostly receded and roads were “getting better.”

Ownby said firefighters had to rescue several motorists stranded in high water on Willowdale Road.

Burns said the chance of rain and thunderstorms across metro Atlanta will continue into the weekend. The rain chances are at 50 percent Thursday, 40 percent Friday and 40 percent Saturday and Sunday, Burns said.

Highs will reach the upper 80s the remainder of the week, with lows in the low 70s.