With dramatic storm surge expected across South Carolina’s low-lying coastal areas as a result of Hurricane Irma, Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of barrier islands in Colleton, Beaufort, and Jasper counties. Residents in other portions of the state are advised to seek appropriate shelter as the impact of the storm reaches South Carolina early next week.
After passing through Florida, Irma is expected to weaken as it moves through Georgia. South Carolina will still experience an impact from the storm as it moves to the west of the state. Storm surge across the lower portion of South Carolina’s coast remains a major concern, as the National Hurricane Center predicts as much as 4-6 feet of inundation above dry ground.
Strong wind gusts are possible in portions of the state, which could damage trees and powerlines. Rains of 4-7 inches are expected to lead to flash flooding and minor to moderate river flooding could be seen next week.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday mandatory evacuations will begin for residents on Edisto Beach, Daufuskie Island, Fripp Island, Harbor Island, Hunting Island, Hilton Head, Knowles Island, and Tullifini Island. No other areas of the state have been ordered to evacuate.
No lane reversals have been ordered by the governor, who will leave the decision to redirect any traffic up to local officials in the areas of evacuation.
“The southernmost coast of South Carolina is expected to experience a storm surge from 4-6 feet above ground level, with the greatest chances for serious flooding occurring on Monday,” said McMaster during a press briefing Friday evening. “This is also complicated by higher than normal tides due to the full moon and by strong, tropical-force winds.”
Asked if Charleston-area residents who have have already evacuated the coast should decide to return to the area, McMaster said it was up to those individuals to make the right decision, although he urged caution.
“In a situation like this, it’s always best to be cautious because the weather can change,” he said.