Southeast Georgia ‘Got Off Pretty Good’ from Hurricane Dorian

Officials with most local governments said something along the same lines after Dorian’s passage. The hurricane passed by the Golden Isles early Thursday morning, skimming the coast and leaving little damage in its wake.

by Taylor Cooper, The Brunswick News, Ga. / September 6, 2019

(TNS) — As the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service’s Jacksonville office, Scott Cordero’s assessment of the damage Coastal Georgia sustained from Hurricane Dorian was pretty positive.

“Y’all got off pretty good in Southeast Georgia,” he told The News during an interview by phone Thursday afternoon.

Officials with nearly every local government agency said something along the same lines in the hours following Dorian’s passage. The hurricane passed by the Golden Isles early Thursday morning, skimming the coast and leaving little damage in its wake.

“In all regards, it could have been a whole lot worse,” Cordero said. “We were expecting a whole lot more. Just be thankful that you didn’t get it.”

The hurricane passed the Golden Isles well off the coast — Cordero estimated about 120 miles offshore by the time it reached Glynn County — meaning actual conditions resembled more mundane weather events.

“The conditions that you felt over there were kind of like a king tide with a nor’easter type of event going into Camden County,” Cordero said.

Glynn and Camden counties experienced sustained winds of roughly 20-30 mph, with some gusts up to 45 mph.

“It was basically low-end, sustained tropical-storm-force winds with middle-of-the-road tropical-storm-force gusts,” Cordero said.

Rainfall also came in either below or on the very low end of forecasts.

St. Marys got more than other area at roughly 1.71 inches of rain. Brunswick received about 1.68 inches of rainfall, while the Glynco area had 1.54 inches, St. Simons 1.38 inches and the Sterling area 0.67 inches.

The lack of major flooding — despite the combined efforts of rainfall and a storm surge — was largely due to fortunate timing.

“It’s all a matter of tidal conditions, especially for storm surges,” Cordero said.

“One of the benefits that (Glynn County) had was that it was during low tide. That benefited you immensely. For example, there’s a seven-foot variation between high tide and low-tide in Southeast Georgia. In fact, in your area, it goes into the negative. That helps tremendously.”

Some of the low spots in Camden and Glynn experienced short-lived flooding, he said, but that was about it for Coastal Georgia.

“If it was high tide, all of the causeways would probably have been closed because of inundation at the foot of each one of them,” Cordero said. “I feel very blessed that none of the causeways in your area were really affected, especially at the entrances of each one of them. It was more like a king tide for y’all, instead of a hurricane.”

While some drew comparisons to 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, Cordero said Dorian was quite different. For one, it was riding much closer to the coast.

“(It Dorian moved) 40 or so miles to the west, you wouldn’t have been able to get to work,” Cordero said. “All those little miles a huge difference, and it happened at low tide ... It was cutting that bologna pretty thin.”

Of course, Dorian’s not done yet.

“Think of our neighbors to the north,” Cordero said.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the storm had reached the middle of the South Carolina coast, just northeast of Charleston.

“I think it’s going to go out to sea and keep on going. It’s going to parallel the Carolinas,” Cordero said.

“It’s really going to hug the barrier islands of North Carolina, then track northeast. It will move fast when it gets caught up in westerlies ... At the end, it’s supposed to go into Nova Scotia as a subtropical hurricane near Halifax.”

Dorian had very little impact on the Golden Isles, but local government officials think Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to call for an evacuation of all areas east of Interstate 95 was a good one.

“Better to be earlier with some info than late with all of it,” said Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey.

Glynn County Emergency Management Director Jay Wiggins said it gave local governments some more practice in working together, but also that Dorian could easily have been much more dangerous for Glynn County.

“It was an exercise for us,” Wiggins said. “Fortunately, it could have been so much worse for our citizens and we’re just glad they’ll be coming home, and we’ll be ready for the next time.”

Of course, Cordero pointed out hurricane season isn’t over yet, noting five weather systems out there that could become hurricanes.

“It’s still a long season yet,” Cordero said.

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©2019 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)

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