Tropical Storm Isaac is too far away from the Grand Strand for emergency management in Horry County to know how the area might be affected, but officials say now is a perfect time to prepare.
“It’s out there so we’re watching it,” said Randy Webster, Horry County’s emergency management director. “Right now it’s not a direct threat to us and we have to wait a few more days to see what happens.”
Webster said he should know more about the storm and the potential hazards for the county on Friday and with each day thereafter.
The storm is expected to hit Florida on Monday and tracks show it crossing over several Caribbean islands first. Tropical Storm Isaac is projected to grow to a Category 1 hurricane over the next few days. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, the storm system was entering the eastern border of the Caribbean expected to pass near or south of Puerto Rico on Thursday.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds reaching 45 miles per hour was creeping west at 21 mph.
Tropical Storm Isaac was still more than 1,600 miles from Myrtle Beach Wednesday night, and another tropical depression, the year’s 10th, had formed further east in the Atlantic.
“We’re monitoring it, but it’s too far away,” Webster said. “Once we’re in the five-day cone we’ll start ramping up and preparing for what we may have to do.”
Decision making on recommendations to the governor, who issues all evacuation orders, won’t likely be made until the Grand Strand falls into the three-day warning cone.
“Right now is a great time to make sure you get everything you need,” Webster said. “Don’t rush to buy a bunch of stuff, but take inventory … that way you’re ready if it comes our direction.”
Webster said checklists, including which personal documents and any supplies, are available at ready.gov or through the American Red Cross.
He said people in the Myrtle Beach area shouldn’t fret just yet, but need to be aware and ready just in case.
“It’s not even pointing at us yet and we don’t know if it will be,” he said. “But realize it’s there. Take the time now to figure out what you need and what you’ll do.”
The path does include the western coast of Florida and Tampa, where the Republican National Convention will be held. S.C. Governor Nikki Haley is scheduled to be at the convention and could be facing her first hurricane evacuation while in office 350 miles from the state.
Webster said the storm can change dramatically, either hitting the islands and dissipating or veering around land and strengthen in the warm waters.
New and expanded evacuation zones were released at the start of this hurricane season. Areas west of the Intracoastal Waterway were once considered out of the danger zone, but are now included, as are inland locations adjacent to rivers like Bucksport which is along the Waccamaw River.
Those evacuations will be most impacted by the storm surge. Webster explained that surge of water pushed on the land by the storm is most impacted by the tide level. A storm arriving at high tide would be a worst-case scenario, he said.
The potential storm won’t be linked to local tide information until it is closer to the area, however. Webster said that information comes directly from the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center.
State reporter Joey Holleman contributed to this report.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.