FIRST ALERT: Lowcountry to begin feeling Hurricane Dorian impacts this afternoon

Published: Sep. 4, 2019 at 8:39 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Hurricane Dorian impacts are expected in the Lowcountry starting Wednesday afternoon through Thursday as a Hurricane Warning is in effect for the South Carolina coast.

The early Wednesday morning showed no major change in the Category 2 hurricane’s projected path which has it moving near the South Carolina coast on Thursday, with the storm’s center 50 to 60 miles east of our coast that morning.

Expected impacts include storm surge, flooding, heavy rain, and tropical storm force winds with power outages likely.

The likelihood of hurricane storm force winds closer to the coast is also likely, according to Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh.

"As the storm slowly weakens, the wind field will continue to expand,” Walsh said.

Early Wednesday morning, Dorian was about 95 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida. The Category 2 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and is moving north-northwest at 8 mph.

The system is off the coast of northern Florida moving very close to the Georgia coast line and South Carolina and then models call for it to take a northeasterly turn.

“Hopefully, this does play out,” said Live 5 Meteorologist Stephanie Sine."Right now, the Lowcountry is in the cone of uncertainty."

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Posted by Live 5 News on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Dorian weakened on Tuesday to a Category 2 hurricane but forecasters urge that the Lowcountry is still expected to feel effects from this long reaching storm.

As the storm weakens, its winds will begin to fan out.

Walsh said the Lowcountry should start feeling the effects by Wednesday afternoon. Those impacts include brief showers, downpours, breezy winds and storm surge which is a big concern for South Carolina coastal areas.

“In terms of storm surge, we’ve seen this before,” Sine said."This is when water moves onshore from the ocean, and it’s typically not here. So we could see 3 to 6 feet of that."

Rainfall potential is very high along the coast from 5 to 6 inches of rain expected across the Tri-County with as much as 10 inches in some areas.

“We had a lot of flooding during Hurricane Matthew and Irma, and this could be a little worse than Matthew because the tides will be running higher,” Walsh said.

By Wednesday night, we are expecting tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and storm surge. As far as winds, by Wednesday evening we could see 30 mph winds in the Lowcountry.

Around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, winds start to pick up between 40 mph and 50 mph.

Throughout Thursday, impacts expected include tropical storm force winds, heavy rains and storm surge which will likely be the worst during the morning hours.

The center of Dorian is expected to be about 50 miles off the Charleston coast line on Thursday.

“You could expect pretty gusty winds Thursday morning, with winds expected to be around 60 mph around 6 a.m.,” Walsh said."By that night, we could see wind speeds around 70 mph. Depending on where the storm moves, the wind gusts could increase."

Coastal impacts include flooding between 5 to 10 inches of rain, 39-73 mph wind gusts possible, and storm surge of 3 to 6 feet of saltwater inundation.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Beaufort, Charleston, Coastal Colleton, and Tidal Berkeley counties. A Storm Surge Warning is also in effect for Beaufort, Charleston, Coastal Colleton, and Tidal Berkeley counties. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Dorchester and Inland Colleton counties.

At 8 a.m., the center of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 29.5 North, longitude 79.6 West.

Dorian is moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h) and a slightly faster motion toward the northwest or north-northwest is expected through early Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, officials with the National Hurricane Center said a turn toward the north is forecast by Wednesday evening, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast on Thursday morning.

“Hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the Hurricane Warning area in Florida today,” NHC officials said. “Tropical storm conditions will begin within the Hurricane Warning area in the Carolinas later today, with hurricane conditions by tonight.”

Maximum sustained winds remain near 105 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a series of executive orders Sunday night ordering the closure of schools in eight South Carolina coastal counties, a mandatory evacuation for portions of counties from Jasper to Horry and the reversal of lanes to help accommodate a combination of evacuees and people headed home from spending the holiday weekend at South Carolina beaches.

The evacuations cover the following counties and county zones:

Southern Coast

  • Colleton County Evacuation Zones A, B
  • Beaufort County Evacuation Zone A
  • Jasper County Evacuation Zone A

Central Coast

  • Charleston County Evacuation Zones A, B, C
  • Dorchester County Evacuation Zone D
  • Berkeley County Evacuation Zones B, G

Northern Coast

  • Horry County Evacuation Zone A
  • Georgetown County Evacuation Zone A

To figure out which zone you live in, use the “Know Your Zone” tool on the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website.

Lowcountry government agencies announced plans to move to OPCON 1 and opened citizen information lines to allow people to call with questions.

In addition to school and government office closings, businesses across the area announced closures as Dorian moved closer.

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