COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina emergency response teams fully activated Sunday morning to prepare for any effects from Hurricane Dorian this week.
The state’s Emergency Operations Center moved to OPCON 1, its highest level of emergency operating conditions.
OPCON 1 means that a disaster or emergency is either happening or is imminent and that the state’s emergency response team is activated or ready to deploy.
The news comes as the latest data from hurricane hunters showed Hurricane Dorian had strengthened to a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
The storm is expected to weaken back to a Category 4 hurricane before nearing Florida where the latest forecast tracks show it will skirt the coastline from Florida up through the Carolinas. However, even if it does not make landfall, the Lowcountry should expect effects from the storm Wednesday or Thursday based on the latest forecast.
Those effects include storm surge, heavy rains, flooding and at least tropical storm-force winds.
Gov. Henry McMaster Saturday declared a state of emergency for South Carolina to allow for the allocation of resources to prepare for the hurricane’s approach.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg declared a state of emergency for the city Saturday evening.
“While the exact path of Hurricane Dorian is still subject to change, this is a large, powerful storm, and we need to prepare for the worst, even as we hope for the best," Tecklenburg said.
Back in May, agencies unveiled a simplified OPCON system reducing the old system’s five OPCON levels to just three.
Those OPCON announcements, released by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division as well as individual county and city goverments, stand for “operating conditon” and describes the level of alert and preparedness under which various state agencies are working.
The lower the number, the closer the threat is.