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Essential Guide to Natural Disasters in Georgia
Georgia is no stranger to natural disasters. Each year, there is a chance that one of several different disasters might occur in the state. From hurricanes to tornadoes to wildfires, Georgia faces a variety of threats each year. This article will explore all of the different natural disasters that could affect the state, what you can do to prepare for them, and how they might impact you.
Drought & Extreme Heat in Georgia
Drought and extreme heat are two of the most common natural disasters in Georgia. A drought is a long period when there is not enough rain to meet the water needs of plants, animals, and people. Extreme heat is a period of unusually high temperatures that can cause heat-related illness or death.
Drought and extreme heat usually occur in Georgia during the summer months. They can both be very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage. To prepare for them, you should make sure you have enough water stored away, stay hydrated, and stay cool.
The Metro Atlanta area is especially vulnerable to the water shortages that come with an extended drought. The area relies on Lake Lanier for much of its water, but under state law is only allowed to withdraw one-quarter of the water that flows into the lake. The remainder makes its way downstream into Florida's Apalachicola Bay where it is harvested for oysters.
During drought conditions, metro Atlanta residents are restricted to using their allocated portion of the water supply. As a result, water becomes more expensive for everyone.
Extreme heat in Georgia can cause problems for both people and animals. Heatstroke is a common concern when the temperature rises above 90° Fahrenheit - especially when it's combined with high humidity (aka "wet bulb" temperature. To avoid becoming too hot, remember to stay in the shade, stay hydrated, refrain from strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day, and avoid touching metal or vehicles for extended periods.
Earthquakes in Georgia
Earthquakes are a sudden release of energy that creates seismic waves. These waves can cause a lot of damage to buildings and other structures. Earthquakes usually occur in the Northeastern & Northwestern parts of Georgia, near the Appalachian Mountains. They can also happen in other parts of the state but are less common.
The largest earthquake in Georgia in the last 100 years was a 4.5 Richter earthquake 11km SSW of Madison, Georgia in 1914.
To prepare for an earthquake, you should have an emergency kit ready to go. The kit should include food, water, first-aid supplies, and other essentials. You should also make sure you know how to shut off the gas and electricity in your home. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, you may want to consider investing in a sturdy earthquake-resistant structure.
Floods in Georgia
Floods are one of the most common natural disasters in Georgia. They can occur anywhere in the state but are most common in the Central & Southern parts. A flood is a temporary overflow of water that covers usually dry land.
Flooding can be caused by rain, melting snow, or ice. It can also be caused by a storm surge or by the failure of a dam or levee. Many of Georgia's most commonly flooded regions are now controlled by dams (such as Allatoona Dam, which protects Rome, GA).
To prepare for a flood, you should make sure you have an emergency kit ready to go. The kit should include food, water, first-aid supplies, and other essentials. Never try to drive through a flooded road, and understand where your house sits in a flood plain.
Hurricanes in Georgia
Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone, which is a low-pressure system that forms over warm water in the tropics. A hurricane is a specific type of tropical cyclone that has wind speeds of 74 mph (119 km/h) or higher. Hurricanes can cause a lot of damage to coastal areas and are a major risk for people living in these areas.
Hurricanes usually occur in Georgia in the late summer and early fall. They can occur anywhere in the state, but they are most likely to occur in the southern half. The extent of hurricanes in Georgia varies from year to year, but they can cause a lot of damage, especially to coastal areas.
Many hurricanes that hit the northern part of the state arrive via the Alabama or Florida Gulf Coast* and are tropical storms by the time they reach the state. There are recent exceptions, such as Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma, but Georgia's inland location downgrades most of the storms.
*Georgia also receives a lot of Florida evacuees.
For direct coastal hits, the Bight of Georgia usually encourages hurricanes to hit either South Carolina to the north or Florida to the south. Direct hits from hurricanes like Matthew remain rare.
Because hurricanes can cause a lot of damage to coastal areas, you should prepare for one if you live in Georgia. If you live in Georgia near the coast, keep an eye out during hurricane season and be prepared to leave quickly if Georgia is hit by a hurricane.
For inland hurricanes, take shelter indoors when the storm hits, even if you are far from any coast. These storms can cause just as much damage as coastal hurricanes. Pay attention to any alerts issued by the National Hurricane Center.
Landslides & Debris Flow in Georgia
Landslides and debris flow are two of the most common natural disasters in Georgia. A landslide is a type of mass wasting that occurs when a large amount of rock, soil, or debris falls or slides down a slope.
Debris flow is a type of landslide that consists of water, mud, and rocks. Both landslides and debris flow can happen anywhere in Georgia, but they are most common in the mountains and foothills due to improper land use or construction practices, which are rarer now than in the past. They can occur during any season, but they are most common in the winter and spring.
To prepare for a landslide or debris flow, you should have an emergency plan and kit ready to go. You should also know what to do if you are caught in a landslide or debris flow. If you are near a landslide or debris flow, you should try to evacuate the area immediately.
Nuclear Disasters in Georgia
Georgia has two nuclear facilities at Plant Hatch in Waynesboro and Plant Vogtle near Augusta, GA. Nuclear disasters are exceedingly rare. On an absolute scale, nuclear power is one of the safest forms of energy generation, especially compared to coal, which has caused cancer and respiratory illness in thousands of Georgians. Only Chernobyl and Fukushima have ever had true nuclear disasters. Three Mile Island is America's only nuclear incident.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand how a nuclear disaster could play out and be generally aware of where nuclear risks are in Georgia.
Power Outages in Georgia
Power outages are a common occurrence in Georgia. The state averages around 11 outages per year. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to multiple days.
There are several reasons why power outages might occur in Georgia. Some of the most common causes include severe weather conditions such as thunderstorms or snowstorms, animals getting into equipment, falling trees, and malfunctioning equipment.
However, an extended power outage can cause a disaster in itself outside of the original cause.
Georgia has a robust grid with a mix of power generation sources, but, especially in the winter & summer, it's important to have a general plan for living without electricity for some time.
There are a few things that you can do during a power outage to make the experience a little less stressful. First, make sure to unplug all electronics to avoid damage from power surges when the power comes back on. Second, have an emergency kit prepared and ready to go.
Severe Weather & Thunderstorms in Georgia
Severe weather is a common occurrence in Georgia, and thunderstorms are the most frequent type of severe weather. They can occur at any time of the year but are most common in the spring and summer.
Thunderstorms are caused by a combination of warm, moist air and cold, dry air. When these two types of air meet, it creates severe storms.
The most common danger from thunderstorms is lightning. Each year, there are around 50 fatalities and 400 injuries from lightning in the US in addition to property damage. The best way to stay safe during a thunderstorm is to stay indoors and avoid contact with metal objects. Hail damage to cars & houses and high winds are also threats. Watch for alerts from the National Weather Service for real-time information.
Sinkholes in Georgia
Sinkholes are a geological hazard that can occur anywhere in the world, but they are more common in areas with soluble rock, such as limestone and dolomite. In Georgia, sinkholes typically occur in the Valley and Ridge and Piedmont regions. Sinkholes can range in size from just a few feet across to several hundred feet wide and deep. They are often caused by water erosion of the soil and rock over time.
If you live in an area that is prone to sinkholes, it is important to be aware of the danger and take steps to protect yourself and your property. Always be aware of your surroundings and watch for any signs of a possible sinkhole, especially if you know of excessive water use (in Southern Georgia) or excessive rain runoff (in Northwest Georgia).
Tornadoes in Georgia
Tornadoes are a type of severe weather that is associated with thunderstorms. They are very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage. Tornadoes usually happen in the Midwest and the Southeast United States. They can occur in any state, but Georgia is next to the "new" Tornado Alley, which means that there is a higher risk for tornadoes here due to climate change. Tornadoes can cause fatalities, injuries, and extensive damage. The best way to protect yourself from a tornado is to have a tornado plan and to know what to do when one is sighted.
Wildfires in Georgia
Wildfires are natural disasters that can occur in any state, but they are more common in the Western United States. In Georgia, wildfires usually happen in the north-central and north-eastern parts of the state. Wildfires can cause fatalities, injuries, and extensive damage. The best way to protect yourself from a wildfire is to have a wildfire plan and to know what to do when one is sighted.
During the Rough Ridge Fire of 2016, the primary hazard was dangerous air pollution levels in Metro Atlanta.
Winter Weather in Georgia
Winter weather can include blizzards, ice storms, and heavy snow. These types of weather events can cause fatalities, injuries, and extensive damage. The best way to protect yourself from a winter storm is to have a winter weather plan and to know what to do when one is forecasted.
Many Atlantans remember the Snowpocalypse of 2014. With only a dusting of snow and ice at the wrong time (middle of the workday), thousands were trapped on freezing highways for hours.
In this article, we've covered the different natural disasters that could happen in Georgia. Remember: it's never too early to start preparing for a disaster! Preparedness before a crisis strikes means less time spent worrying or scrambling during an emergency.
When an emergency happens, pay attention to alerts issued by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and your local county or city disaster declaration.