SC Coast Under Tropical Storm Warning As Elsa Moves Up Florida Coast
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A tropical storm warning is in effect for the entire coastline of South Carolina where remnants of Hurricane Elsa will sweep across the state starting Wednesday afternoon.
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The counties under the watch are Charleston, Berkeley, Coastal Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper, Georgetown and Horry Counties.
Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said the Lowcountry will begin feeling the effects of the storm after noon on Wednesday.
Following Cat. 1 escalation, Elsa returns to tropical storm speeds ahead of Florida landfall
Elsa, which became the season’s first hurricane last week before weakening to a tropical storm regained its hurricane status Tuesday night. As the night went on, Elsa returned to tropical storm speeds.
At 5 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Elsa was located by an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft and NOAA Doppler weather radars near latitude 28.5North, longitude 83.5 West. That is about 50 miles south west of Cedar Key, Florida and 70 miles north west of Tampa. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph with higher gusts. Some fluctuations in the intensity are possible until landfall occurs. Weakening will begin after Elsa moves inland by late Wednesday morning.
Elsa is moving toward the north near 14 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue until Wednesday when the storm is expected to turn toward the north-northeast, pushing the eyewall into the Florida coast. A faster northeastward motion will be expected by late Thursday.
On the forecast track, Elsa will hit the west coast of Florida between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday. Elsa is forecast to then move across the southeastern United States through Thursday.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center. Sarasota Airport reported a sustained wind of 36 mph and a wind gust to 46 mph, Tuesday.
The estimated minimum central pressure based on data from the aircraft is 29.65 inches.
Lowcountry’s main threats: Rain, gusty winds
Walsh said the storm will make landfall in Florida as a 75-mph hurricane and will begin weakening quickly over land. He expects it to still be a tropical storm with 50 mph winds as it passes over Georgia and 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 around 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, Walsh said 35 to 40 mph winds are possible.
“Then by Thursday morning around 7 a.m., we could see some 40-mph winds gust down along the coastline, 25 to 30 mph inland. That’s enough to take down a tree, knock out some power with the rain on top of it,” Walsh said.
Rainfall estimates have fluctuated over the past few days as the path of the storm shifted, but Walsh said to expect between up to two to four inches of rain by Thursday night.
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. Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.
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