Hurricane watch, tropical storm watch continues for portions of SC coast

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Portions of the South Carolina coast remain either under a hurricane or tropical storm watch as Category 4 Hurricane Dorian remains stationary late Monday night, but expected to move towards the U.S. mainland overnight.

The late Monday night update by the National Hurricane Center indicates that Dorian has decreased in strength with 130 mph maximum sustained wind gusts, down from 145 mph.

The track models show a slight shift to the east which Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh says is good news, but said we should still be expecting impacts for the Lowcountry depending on how close Dorian comes to South Carolina’s coast as indicated by a number of watches under effect for some coastal areas.

A Hurricane Watch includes Charleston, Coastal Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper counties. A portion of Berkeley County is also under the watch which includes Goose Creek, Moncks Corner and Saint Stephen.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Dorchester and Inland Colleton County. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm-force winds are possible somewhere within this area within the next 48 hours.

The latest forecast models show impacts for the Lowcountry starting late Wednesday night and all day on Thursday with possible hurricane and tropical storm force winds affecting the coast.

Late Monday night, Hurricane Dorian was about 100 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida with 130 mph maximum sustained winds and is stationary.

High pressure to the north of South Carolina has been driving the storm to the west, but that high pressure is weakening Monday night as a trough of low pressure digs into it.

“That opens up a window of opportunity to pull the storm north,” Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said Monday night."The storm is going to the path of least resistance and that means right up the coast."

The best scenario for the Lowcountry is the storm veering more towards the east away from the coastline. However, as the storm begins to weaken, the system’s wind field is expected to grow.

The updated forecast shows we could see tropical storm force winds along the coast starting Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m.

“That’s why you want to have those preparations done by Wednesday morning at the latest,” Walsh said.

By Wednesday night around 7 p.m., we could see 30 mph winds along the Lowcountry.

By Thursday morning, there is a possibility of seeing hurricane conditions along the South Carolina coast, and certainly tropical storm conditions. By that afternoon, we could see 60 mph winds.

“Even Thursday at 11 p.m., we’re still looking at near 70 mph along the northeast coast of South Carolina in areas including Georgetown, Pawleys Island, and Murrells Inlet,” Walsh said.

High surf and a high risk of rip currents are already reported off the South Carolina coast, prompting coastal communities to urge people to stay out of the water.

At 11 p.m., the eye of Hurricane Dorian was located near latitude 26.9 North, longitude 78.5 West.

Dorian is stationary just north of Grand Bahama Island.

“A slow northwestward motion is expected to occur early Tuesday,” National Hurricane Center officials said late Monday night."A turn toward the north is forecast by late Tuesday, with a northeastward motion forecast to begin by Wednesday night. On this track, the core of extremely dangerous Hurricane Dorian will continue to pound Grand Bahama Island into Tuesday morning."

Forecasters say the hurricane will then move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late Tuesday through Wednesday evening, very near the Georgia and South Carolina coasts Wednesday night and Thursday, and near or over the North Carolina coast late Thursday and Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph (215 km/h) with higher gusts.

Dorian is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

“Although gradual weakening is forecast, Dorian is expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next couple of days,” NHC officials said."Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km)."

Mandatory evacuations began at noon

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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