With rainy weekend expected, flood watch issued for Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Get your umbrellas and rain boots ready. Weather experts are forecasting a flood.

Even with the sun shining Thursday, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch beginning Friday and lasting through Saturday, with as much as 4 inches expected in Gwinnett.

"If we do get as much rain as we are expecting, this is going to be a record-breaker," said forecaster Vaughn Smith, adding that the biggest concern is for the central Georgia area from Columbus to Macon, where as much as 8 inches could fall in spots.

The frontal system isn't so unusual, but Smith said the system will stall while moisture pours in from the Gulf.

"What's unusual is the amount of moisture we are having with it," he said.

Smith said the prediction doesn't exactly compare to the floods of 2009, when rain was concentrated over a small area for days. This event, he said, will be more widespread.

The warning is coming early because all of the National Weather Service's computer models are predicting the same thing: massive amounts of rain through Tuesday, although the heaviest rain is expected Friday and Saturday.

"All of the models are showing pretty much the same thing," Smith said. "We have a lot of confidence in this situation."

This winter has been especially wet, with 8.2 inches recorded at the closest station at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta. The average is about 7.55 inches for the same time period.

Smith said 2 to 3 inches are expected across Gwinnett with isolated areas receiving as much as 4 inches, compared to 4 to 6 inches forecasted in central Georgia, with isolated areas receiving 8 inches.

In a flood watch, people should pay attention to creeks and rivers, where water could rise quickly, and be aware of low-lying areas. Smith said people should clear out any blocked drainage areas to allow the water to flow through.