As the system that brought severe thunderstorms, a possible tornado and multiple inches of rain moves out of metro Atlanta, the effects of the wild weather day are not over.
The storms brought heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds to parts of the region Thursday morning, flooding roads and waterways and leaving thousands of Georgians in the dark.
Not only are there some remaining showers, but the risk of flooding waterways and overwhelmed drains will last until Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Dozens of counties, including Clayton, Fayette, Fulton and Henry, remain under a flash flood warning until 9 p.m.
“Even though the rain is stopping, the runoff will likely continue for another day or two, maybe even into the weekend,” Channel 2 Action News chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said.
A possible tornado was reported in Gordon County, damaging eight houses and six other buildings about 7:15 a.m., according to Courtney Taylor, the county’s emergency management director. Heavy winds also toppled numerous trees. No injuries were reported, but the Red Cross was assisting those displaced from their homes.
The National Weather Service is expected to survey the area to determine whether a tornado caused the damage, Taylor said.
While many North Georgia counties were under tornado watches and warnings Thursday morning, that threat has moved out of the area. Many South Georgia counties remain under a tornado watch.
A tornado watch does not mean that a tornado is imminent or on the ground, but it does mean the conditions are right for a tornado to form, according to Channel 2.
The storms were fueled by warm temperatures, which topped out at 72 degrees in Atlanta, Burns said. The system pushed cold air into the region, causing the pockets of air to “battle,” producing the strong thunderstorms.
At 5:15 p.m., the heaviest band of rain was moving through Athens, Covington, near Eatonton and south into Macon.
“There’s still rain, it’s going to be wet through the afternoon, but the severe weather threat is gone,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. “And a diminishing (threat) at this point across most of metro Atlanta.”
Reports of flooding are still rolling in across North Georgia. The rising water stranded drivers in Dalton and washed away roads in Cherokee County. Part of Water Tank Road was closed in Cherokee, as well as Wright’s Mill and Union roads, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.
Standing water filled the Krog Street Tunnel, which links Atlanta’s Inman Park and Cabbagetown neighborhoods.
Citing the potential for more flooding, schools in Fannin and Gordon counties released students early. Chattooga County Schools were closed Thursday.
Falling trees and power lines will also remain a concern, according to Channel 2. Authorities in Gwinnett County received reports that a power line fell on a school bus on Dee Kennedy Road near Thomas Road. No children were on board the bus at the time, and there were no reports of injuries, according to police.
In Dunwoody, a tree fell on a vehicle during the morning rush. Dash camera video shared by police showed motorists swerve to avoid the falling tree on I-285 East near Ashford Dunwoody Road.
No one was seriously injured, but authorities closed multiple right lanes to clear the wreckage and tree debris, causing major traffic delays.
On average, North Georgia received 2 to 4 inches of rainfall Thursday morning, and some areas saw up to 5 inches.
"The soil cannot withstand much more in the way of rainfall,” Burns said. “We've had about as much rain as we can take. Nearly three-quarters of what we would actually see in a month, we've seen over several hours this morning."
Just before 11 a.m., about 10,000 Atlanta-area Georgia Power customers were without service, according to the utility. That number dropped to about 2,000 as of 5:15 p.m.
Georgia EMC was reporting about 11,300 power outages statewide, including 9,000 in metro Atlanta. Only about 150 metro Atlanta customers remained without power at 5:15 p.m.
The stormy weather Thursday also impacted arrivals and departures at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. A traffic management program was put in place, causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 1 hour and 50 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The evening commute, while slower than normal, hasn’t been as messy as the morning commute, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.
Behind the cold front, the region is looking at a 25-degree temperature drop.
“You're going to feel it tomorrow morning,” Channel 2 meteorologist Katie Walls said. “High temperatures are only running in the lower 40s.”
There is also the chance for some snow showers Friday morning with some lingering moisture, but Walls said there will only be accumulation on grassy surfaces.
— Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.
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