Visitors to Carolina beaches should closely monitor the latest reports on Tropical Storm Arthur and stay weather alert.
That's the message Wednesday afternoon from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, as the storm continues to better organize as it moves north toward the Carolinas.
The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for Georgetown and Horry Counties in South Carolina and a tropical storm warning for coastal waters off South Carolina, from Little River Inlet to the North Carolina-Virginia border. The entire Atlantic coastal area of North Carolina is under a tropical storm warning, and the Outer Banks are under a hurricane watch.
The storm is expected to become a hurricane as it approaches the North Carolina coast.
At 1 p.m., Arthur was reported 105 miles ease-northeast of Cape Canaveral and about 260 miles south-southeast of Charleston, with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour.
Meteorologist Justin Lock says the biggest impact will be felt east of Highway 17 as Arthur passes South Carolina on Thursday.
"The weather impacts will be felt basically from sun up to sundown," Lock said.
Forecasters predict Lowcountry beaches could see wind gusts of up to 40 m.p.h. and four to six-foot breakers. The storm will bring a high risk for rip currents, creating a danger for people vacationing in South Carolina for the 4th of July holiday weekend.
"People will want to get into the water, and that's really dangerous for even experienced swimmers," Lock said.
Arthur is likely to produced scattered showers and downpours, mainly along the coast.
"The effects will be dramatically less as you move west of 17," Lock said.
The SCEMD says beachgoers should be aware of the increased risk of rip currents and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Swimmers should stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties, where permanent rip currents often exist.
If caught in a rip current, the SCEMD says these steps can help you escape:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- NEVER swim against the rip current. Stay afloat and signal for help.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle – away from the current – towards shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water.
- Draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and shout for help.
Track the storm at the Live 5 News Hurricane Center with interactive maps. You can also download the Live 5 Weather app by texting APP to 84355.