NEWBERRY COUNTY — According to the forecast by the National Weather Service, South Carolina could see hazards such as wind, flooding rain and tornadoes from Hurricane Irma as she makes her way up the East Coast.
The expected trajectory had changed by late Thursday afternoon from noon Thursday, with mandatory evacuation of the Georgia coast having been ordered by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster telling residents to begin evacuating now or run the risk of being stuck if they decide to stay.
The NWS says there is a potential for winds strong enough to cause damage to trees, signs and outbuildings, with the possibility of damage to mobile homes and homes. Power outages are also likely.
Newberry County Emergency Services Coordinator Tommy Long said the way Hurricane Irma will affect this area will depend on how it turns.
“The right side of the storm is usually worse than the left side. It will depend on what side of the storm comes through and where it makes land fall,” he said. “We are trying to get ahead of this thing and doing some good planning, making sure people are planning ahead and not waiting to the last minute.”
Long recommends that everyone in Newberry County visit the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s website (scemd.org), which includes information on how to prepare and what you need in your emergency kit.
Their website recommends that everyone have a hurricane plan and ensure everyone in your household knows the plan, know your evacuation route, have an emergency supplies kit prepared, make arrangements for your pets, protect you home by covering windows with permanent shutters or plywood panels, install straps and additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure, be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts, fuel up and service family vehicles.
Scemd.org states that your emergency kit should include three days’ drinking water (two quarts per person per day); non-perishable food; flashlight with extra batteries; portable battery-operated radio; first-aid kit; non-electric can opener; essential medicines; cash and credit cards.
The current forecast track from the National Hurricane Center is showing all areas in South Carolina are vulnerable. The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Hurricane Irma coming ashore near Charleston as a Category 3 sometime overnight Sunday into Monday morning as a Category 3.
Chances of tropical storm force winds continue to increase across the Midlands and Central Savannah River Area, with generally 40 to 60 percent chances. These will increase with time if the current forecast track remains similar. Winds will be strongest within 50 miles of the eventual track.
When it comes to flooding rain, the NWS is saying there is a potential for creeks and streams to rise rapidly, especially in urban areas. Some roads could become flooded and impassable. Flooding of structures in vulnerable locations is possible, as is river flooding.
Four to seven inches of rain is possible with isolated amounts of 10 inches.
At this time, uncertainty puts all locations at risk. Monday, and Monday night look to have the highest threat for flash flooding and river flooding could linger through the week.
The NWS is also reporting that the best chances of tornadoes are in the Midlands, with the possibility of damage to mobile homes, roofs and vehicles. This is again possible Monday and Monday night.
The NWS is stating that the reasonable worst case scenario is that Hurricane Irma makes landfall in southern South Carolina as a strong Category 3 hurricane.
If this were to happen, there would be a few wind gusts in excess of 75 mph across most of the Midlands, and possible 90 mph in areas south of 1-20. The likelihood of tornadoes would increase. Rainfall amounts would not likely change much.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.