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Tropical storm forecast to strike Bulloch Friday
Heavy rain, 60 mph gusts expected; schools to close today, Friday
This image provided by the Naples Fire Rescue Department shows firefighters looking out at the firetruck that stands in water from the storm surge from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Naples, Fla. Hurricane Ian has made landfall in southwest
This image provided by the Naples Fire Rescue Department shows firefighters looking out at the firetruck that stands in water from the storm surge from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Naples, Fla. Hurricane Ian has made landfall in southwestern Florida as a massive Category 4 storm. - photo by Associated Press

The National Weather Service issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the Bulloch County area Wednesday morning with heavy rains and wind gust nearing 60 mph beginning possibly Thursday night.  

The National Weather Service is forecasting tropical storm-like conditions caused by Hurricane Ian will be felt in Bulloch County by Thursday evening with wind gusts nearing 39 mph and heavy rain beginning late in the evening or early Friday morning. The gusts may reach as high as 60 mph.

Rain totals of four to six inches are expected and could be higher in some areas.

Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said he expects downed trees, sporadic power outages throughout the storm and some roads may become unpassable.

Local schools closed Thursday and Friday

Bulloch County Schools and all of its district offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday, September 29-30, for all students and employees, according to a release from Public Relations Director Hayley Greene. She indicated that all after-school activities, sports practices and meetings are also canceled. and the school district has begun informing student families and employees through its mass communication system, websites and social media., according to a release from Public Relations Director Hayley Greene. 

As a result of the imminent storm, Southeast Bulloch High moved its homecoming football game against Islands to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet.

Portal High cancelled its football game against the Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics that was set for Friday. A homecoming pep rally was moved to Friday, Oct. 7 and the homecoming queen and court will be announced during halftime of the Oct. 7 game at the Portal Athletic Complex against Montgomery County.

Statesboro High did not have a football game scheduled this week.

Greene also indicated that even though schools are expected to reopen Monday, some changes may be made in the event of flooding.

“As the school district reopens on Monday, the amount of rain Bulloch County receives could affect school bus route stops,“ Greene said in the release. 

‘The school district has already made a list of potential alternate bus stops for roads where flooding or road closures typically occur due to heavy rain or standing water. Remain alert. Bulloch County Schools will notify families if they need to activate any of these alternate stops.”

Bulloch Academy announced the school will be closed on September 29th and 30th and will reopen on Monday, October 3rd.

Trinity Christian School will dismiss students on Thursday, September 29th, at 12:30 pm and will be closed on Friday, September 30th.  All after-school activities, sporting events, and aftercare will be canceled for Thursday and Friday.

Georgia Southern to close campuses Thursday afternoon

According to an Eagle Alert Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Southern University will be moving classes online and closing its campuses at 1 p.m. today. All in-person events are also canceled for the rest of the week until officials deem the campuses safe and at that point, an “all-clear” will be issued by Eagle Alert.

“Employees should check with their supervisor if they are unsure about their status as an essential employee,” the alert read. “Faculty who are toggling over to online learning should do so from their homes. If they are hosting an in-person class close to 1 pm Thursday and wish to transition to online instruction, that is an authorized option.”

The alert also said students living on campus can shelter in place in their residence halls.

State of Emergency

According to the National Weather Service, Ian’s track as of Wednesday afternoon would bring the center of what is expected to be a tropical storm just east of Savannah sometime in the afternoon Friday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a State of Emergency order after for all counties in Georgia in preparation for Hurricane Ian's impact that will take effect at 7 .m. Thursday. 

Tropical storm conditions will be possible along the entire coastline of Georgia Wednesday through Saturday, with moderate to perhaps major coastal flooding, dangerous rip currents, and beach erosion all possible. 

Three to five feet of storm surge above ground level will be possible in surge-prone areas along the entire Georgia coast, and the heavy rainfall in Southeast Georgia could exacerbate any flooding issues that develop.

Set to hit Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday in southwest Florida as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., swamping city streets with water and smashing trees along the coast.

The hurricane's center struck Wednesday afternoon near Cayo Costa, a protected barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers. The massive storm was expected to trigger flooding across a wide area of Florida as it crawls northeastward across the peninsula.

The Category 4 storm slammed the coast with 150 mph winds and pushed a wall of storm surge accumulated during its slow march over the Gulf of Mexico.

Ian made landfall more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Tampa and St. Petersburg, sparing the densely populated Tampa Bay area from its first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921. Officials warned residents that Tampa could still experience powerful winds and up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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