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Metro area will feel effects of Tropical Storm

By Justin Reedy

By the time Tropical Storm Bill skirts by metro Atlanta, it will be a far cry from the system packing 60 mph winds and torrential rains that hit the Gulf Coast on Monday.

But forecasters say heavy rain is likely here from the remnants of Bill as it crosses through the Southeastern United States.

Bill is expected to take a northeasterly track after making landfall Monday and be sped up along that path by strong upper level winds, according to Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The system could begin causing rain in metro Atlanta by this morning or midday, Grigsby said, and could produce two to three inches of rainfall.

Though the storm had strong winds when it hit Louisiana and Mississippi, forecasters say, it won't be packing such gusts by the time it passes by the metro Atlanta area.

Tropical Storm Bill will be coming through Georgia on the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Alberto, which caused torrential rains and flooding around the state around July 4, 1994. That storm was one of the worst that NWS weather observer Willis Swint, of Swint's Feed Store in Jonesboro, has ever seen in the years he has monitored the county's weather.

"That's the most rain we've ever had for a month in Clayton County since I started observing n we got 20.32 inches here," Swint said. "It's also the largest 24-hour precipitation total we've had."

John Dalton, the deputy director of emergency management for Clayton County, remembers Alberto well.

"We didn't expect it," Dalton said. "It started raining, and it didn't quit. We just got more and more."

The county had to evacuate the residents of a mobile home park in Jonesboro, Dalton said, and had several bridges flooded over the Flint River. The local Red Cross chapter provided shelter for about 50 people, he added.

But Dalton doesn't expect a repeat performance of the flooding seen that year, partly because Bill is only a tropical storm but also because the county has taken steps to prevent flooding along the Flint River. Workers have cleaned out the river channel on the Flint, he explained, reducing the number of obstacles that could slow the water down and contribute to flooding.

Tropical Storm Bill will likely cause dreary skies and soggy ground during this week, but it won't hang around for Independence Day. Weather on the July 4th holiday is expected to be party cloudy and warm, Grigsby said.