Rainy days: Wet weather expected for the weekend

LAWRENCEVILLE - The rainfall expected to continue for the next couple days could put a damper on the Gwinnett County Fair and any other outdoor activities Gwinnett residents planned this weekend.

The rainfall that left water standing along Gwinnett roadways Thursday is expected to continue today and Saturday.

The National Weather Service branch in Peachtree City issued a flood watch Thursday afternoon for parts of north and eastern Georgia, including Gwinnett County, after 2 to 5 inches had fallen within the previous 24 hours. The watch is set to expire Saturday morning.

Weather forecasts for today called for an 80 percent chance of rain during the day and a 50 percent chance later tonight with occasional showers and thunderstorms that could produce heavy rains.

A special weather statement that followed the flood watch Thursday warned of heavy rainfall in Gwinnett and surrounding counties where runoff could cause minor flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses in the Auburn, Suwanee, Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville, Buford Dam, Buford, Dacula and Brookwood areas.

The weather service indicated 2 to 4 inches of rainfall was possible through tonight with showers and thunderstorms likely continuing Saturday, mostly after 2 p.m. The chance of rain Sunday was at 50 percent.

"The main hazard is going to be on the roadways," said Capt. Tommy Rutledge with the Gwinnett County Fire Department. "We've asked that people slow down, that they leave early and allow enough time for inclement weather. It only takes a small amount of water standing the roadway to cause conditions to become hazardous."

While the Gwinnett Fire Department had received no reports of flooding through Thursday afternoon, crews were called to three reports of lightning strikes Wednesday evening and found minor fire damage to two homes in Lilburn and one in Lawrenceville. No injuries were reported.

"We are monitoring the weather situation," Rutledge said, "and we are set to respond to any type of emergency or situation the heavy rains may cause."

Just inside the rain-drenched fairgrounds before the 4 p.m. opening Thursday, a maintenance worker swept standing water into a drain. Those who braved the rainy weather to head out to the fair on its opening day were rewarded with free admission at the ticket gate, although most of the activity was taking place indoors, where vendors and nonprofit organizations continued to set up their booths to welcome potential fair-goers.

The fair is set to reopen at 4 p.m. today.