[image-1]As the chance of a direct impact in Georgia and South Carolina continues to increase for Hurricane Irma, the National Hurricane Center maintains that it is still too early to specify the magnitude and location of the storm when it potentially reaches the Lowcountry.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Hurricane Irma remained a Category 5 storm, moving northwest over the Dominican Republic at 16 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour. As of Thursday morning, 10 deaths have been linked to the storm, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Irma is expected to make landfall in or near South Carolina late Monday evening. Based on current projections from the Hurricane Center, the storm’s windspeeds are predicted to drop to 120 miles per hour as Irma passes to the east of Jacksonville, Fla., and nears the coast of Georgia. Heavy winds could reach South Carolina by Sunday night.

Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to hold a press briefing at 2 p.m. Thursday to update South Carolinians on preparation efforts. On Wednesday, McMaster advised residents to prepare for worst-case conditions in the chance that Irma remains a catastrophic threat if it reaches the state. As a precaution, the governor has declared a state of emergency in South Carolina in an effort to mobilize emergency agencies to prepare for whatever may come. McMaster stressed Wednesday that the state of emergency declaration is not to be confused with an order of evacuation and stated that any such order would come on Friday at the earliest if necessary.

Emergency officials from across the Charleston tricounty area will gather at 2:30 p.m. following McMaster’s briefing to provide updates on hurricane preparations across the Lowcountry. Members of Charleston City Council will hold an emergency teleconference meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening to discuss Hurricane Irma and citywide efforts to prepare for the storm.