By Isaiah Singleton, SPJ student member, senior at Savannah State University majoring in online/print journalism, staff member of the Tiger’s Roar, SSU student newspaper
Savannah news reporters are preparing for the unpredictable impacts that Hurricane Florence may bring as it rakes down the southeast coast.
Wednesday morning it was reported that Florence could stall over or close to southeast North Carolina, making its way down west or southwest this weekend, according to the Hurricane National Center (HNC).
The center also said that the storm has shifted, putting Georgia in the storm’s range—this especially affects Savannah and Southeast Georgia.
At 11 a.m., reports were released Wednesday showing that Chatham County, where Savannah is located, is still “in the error cone and the county could be impacted by tropical storm conditions within the next 48 hours.”
Around the same time, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in the state.
“If the track shifts farther south, impacts could worsen to include storm surge inundation, damaging winds and excessive rainfall.”
Various news outlets and agencies have reported on Florence’s path, which had moved from the southeast and that “If the track shifts farther south, impacts could worsen to include storm surge inundation, damaging winds and excessive rainfall.”
Around noon yesterday, The Savannah Morning News reported that its projected path has shifted northward and that the latest forecast takes the Savannah area out of the “cone of uncertainty”, however forecasters warn that the forecast can change, and impacts can occur outside the cone.
They also said that Georgia is still at risk for heavy rain and possible flooding.
WSAV investigative reporter, Andrew Davis, said that they are working in both Georgia and South Carolina to keep everyone informed about the track of the storm, any possible evacuations that might be issued, and what they need to do if they decide to stay.
“Our job is to give them [the community and audience] the details and the best possible information so they can make a decision for their family on whether they feel safe or want to evacuate.” – Andrew Davis
Davis also said that as a reporter, they let the meteorologists do the forecasting.
“Our job is to disseminate the information and make sure we are asking the questions that we think the people in our viewing area want to know,” he said.
Susan Catron, executive editor of The Savannah Morning News and Savannahnow.com, said that every time a storm shifts, people take a moment to understand what it does and does not mean.
“Our audience wants to know what it [updates] means and we can help figure them out,” she said.
Catron also says that the although the storm is looking less likely to affect Savannah greatly, there are predictions, of 2 to 4 inches of rain and a very windy day. She said that their jobs are to keep, according to their meteorologists.
“Looking at this big storm that is approaching the southeast coast looks huge and you tell yourself different, but the science is telling us something different, but science is what we have to believe,” she said
According to Savannah Morning News, “by mid-afternoon Wednesday, Florence was located about 560 miles east-southeast of Savannah, moving to the west-northwest at 16 mph with top winds speeds of 125 mph.”
They also preceded to say that the most damaging winds and rainfall will not make it to Chatham County, but Warning Coordination Meteorologist Ron Morales at the National Weather Service in Charleston said that while the exact impacts are not known, there’s increasing confidence in potentially significant impacts in southeast Georgia.
Florence’s exact affect in Savannah has been difficult to track and is constantly changing.
The Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) continues to “monitor the storm for any impacts in the area.”