MOULTRIE — Tropical Storm Fay is expected today to bring as many as seven inches of rain to the area along with sustained winds of up to 20 miles per hour when its presence is felt in Southwest Georgia.

The Colquitt County School System has not canceled classes as have some systems, Superintendent Leonard McCoy said Thursday.

The main impact of the storm should occur between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. today, said Ron Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee.

“For you guys it looks like about five to seven inches,” he said. Estimates are for “northeast winds 15 to 20 miles (per hour) and gusting around 30 to 35 miles per hour, easily, when the rain band comes through.”

Residents should limit travel as much as possible to avoid potential flooding and road debris from limbs and trees blown down by winds, Block said.

“This kind of rainfall can give you localized flooding,” he said.

For the county’s crops, some rainfall would be beneficial, Extension agent Scott Brown said. But excessive rainfall and strong winds could wreak havoc with cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and tobacco.

Six inches of rain would benefit without doing significant harm to the remaining 60 percent that will not be improved at this point by additional moisture, Brown said. If rainfall reached levels of earlier estimates of 10 inches or more it would be disastrous.

“Ten inches would not be good for anything,” he said. “If we get a lot of this rain and it’s accompanied by 35 to 50 mile-per-hour wind, a lot of this cotton runs the risk of being blown over. You can have pretty drastic losses from that.”

A scenario that would unfold with high winds is cotton that cannot develop normal because bolls would be covered in foliage.

“It also gets into some problems that affect your ability to harvest that cotton efficiently,” Brown said.

Too much water also can drown cotton and other plants, and wind can be particularly damaging to corn and tobacco plants.

Another danger from heavy rainfall is leaf molds and other diseases that wet conditions can foster, Brown said.

Soybean growers have been encouraged to apply preventative chemicals as have peanut growers.

There is some concern that the storm may actually carry Asian soybean rust spores, Brown said.

“I think with peanuts those negative impacts are less than the positive impact of the rainfall,” he said. “This rain coming now could put us in pretty good shape.”

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