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Tracking Elsa: Tropical Storm warning cancelled in Charleston Co., tornado warnings expire

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 11:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 9:59 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The most recent tornado warning for the Lowcountry expired shortly before 6 a.m., and the tropical storm warning was cancelled for all Lowcountry counties except Georgetown.

Charleston Director of Emergency Management Shannon Scaff says things are “heading in the right direction” as Elsa makes its way out of the area.

Multiple Lowcountry counties, including Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties, were placed under tornado warnings over the course of the morning as Tropical Storm Elsa moved across the area.

Dominion Energy reported nearly 30,000 power outages across the Lowcountry early Thursday morning.

“We have crews out working on recovery,” Shannon Scaff says. “Be patient and cautious.”

The Charleston Police Department began reporting street closures early Thursday morning because of flooding.

Tropical storm watch, tornado watch in effect

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the entire coastline of South Carolina where remnants of Hurricane Elsa swept across the state starting Wednesday afternoon.

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The counties under the watch were Charleston, Berkeley, Coastal Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper, Georgetown and Horry Counties.

A tornado watch was in effect until 5 a.m. for the following counties: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Orangeburg and Williamsburg Counties.

Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said the Lowcountry would begin feeling the effects of the storm after noon on Wednesday. The biggest impacts were Wednesday night into Thursday.

Tropical storm conditions across Georgia, SC coasts

At 2 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Elsa was located near latitude 32.7 North, longitude 82.0 West, about 115 miles west of Charleston.

Doppler radar and surface data indicate that the maximum sustained winds remain near 45 mph with higher gusts.

Elsa was moving toward the north-northeast near 16 mph. A turn toward the northeast was expected Thursday morning, followed by a faster northeastward motion later in the day.

On the forecast track, Elsa would move over Georgia over the morning, over South Carolina and North Carolina later Thursday, pass near the eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night and move near or over the northeastern United States on Friday.

Slow weakening is expected through Friday as Elsa moves over land, and some re-strengthening is possible on Friday while the system moves close to the northeastern United States.

Elsa is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone late Friday.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles, mostly southeast of the center near the coast.

A few hours ago, wind gusts of 75 to 80 mph were reported from Weatherflow stations near Tybee Island, Georgia, in a severe thunderstorm in an outer rain band.

The estimated minimum central pressure based on surface observations is 29.74 inches.

Elsa became the season’s first hurricane last week before weakening to a tropical storm. It regained its hurricane status Tuesday night briefly before weakening again to a tropical storm.

Lowcountry’s main threats: Rain, gusty winds

By 3 p.m. Wednesday, the biggest rain bands from Elsa will begin moving over South Carolina.
By 3 p.m. Wednesday, the biggest rain bands from Elsa will begin moving over South Carolina.(Live 5)

Meteorologist Joey Sovine said the latest forecast track shifts the storm slightly more towards the Midlands, which could lessen the effects along the South Carolina coast.

The storm will begin weakening over land. The storm is likely to have 40 mph winds as it passes into South Carolina later on Wednesday. A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions, with winds above 39 mph, are expected in the next 24 hours.

For the Lowcountry, the first effects from Elsa will move in after lunchtime Wednesday as rain bands move over the area. He said the heaviest rains will still be down to the south. The heaviest rains will move in closer to 11 p.m. Wednesday and into the overnight hours. That’s when we could see an isolated tornado and some flooding.

By Thursday at lunchtime, the center of the storm will be moving toward North Carolina and the storms will pull away from the Lowcountry.

By midnight Thursday, Sovine said 35 to 40 mph winds are possible. The winds will be strong enough to topple trees and potentially cause power outages.

Lowcountry school districts monitor storm’s path

As the storm’s likely track became more clear as it moved closer to Florida, county governments and school districts were watching for possible impacts.

The Colleton County School District said it will keep its schools and offices open on Wednesday. But district spokesman Sean Gruber said summer programs will be canceled on Thursday for students and staff. All other employees will report to work on a two-hour delay on Thursday.

Charleston County School District spokesman Andy Pruitt said his district is monitoring the storm, but have no plans so far to make schedule changes.

Dorchester County School District 2 spokesperson Pat Raynor said her district is working with Dorchester County Emergency Management to monitor the storm.

“At this time, it appears the impact will be minimal so no decisions to adjust schedules have been made,” she said.

Dorchester County is not one of the counties under the tropical storm watch.

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