Horry County moved into alert status Sunday morning as the most powerful hurricane to hit the Atlantic basin since 2007 ominously danced off the shores of Haiti, 1,200 miles away.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center continue to have Matthew off the coast, but uncertainty is high as an upper level trough and ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic is expected to steer the storm.
Because of the size of the storm, the Grand Strand could see heavy rain and flash flooding, strong winds, coastal flooding, and significant erosion and over-wash from high surf.
With sustained winds of 140 mph, the hurricane is now listed as a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale – a category storm that could still cause catastrophic damage.
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“It’s still a very powerful hurricane,” Josh Weiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said.
Residents of Haiti were being evacuated over the weekend and officials banned boating in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s invasion of the islands on Monday, according to the BBC.
Hurricane Matthew has quickly strengthened into a dangerous storm and its projected path could put South Carolina in harm’s way.
Kim Stenson, director of S.C. Emergency Management Division
Although Matthew’s path remains uncertain, local forecasters predict that even if the barreling behemoth remains at sea, Horry County’s coast could see tropical storm-force winds and flooding.
Meteorologists are also certain of one thing: “There will be strong rip currents and large wave action later this week,” Weiss said. “The beaches are going to get pretty dangerous late in the week.”
Local residents are urged to remain alert, remain aware of any updates, follow the forecast and get ready for Matthew.
People in potentially vulnerable areas should review personal safety plans, become familiar with local evacuation zones and locate the nearest hurricane evacuation routes, the S.C. Emergency Management Division announced in a release Sunday.
The beaches are going to get pretty dangerous late in the week.
Josh Weiss, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.
Horry and Georgetown counties switched to Operating Condition Level 4 at 8 a.m. in preparation of Hurricane Matthew, which has been described by forecasters as a dangerous level 4 hurricane. OPCON 4 puts the counties on “alert,” signifying that local officials have started to confer with SCEMD, the National Weather Service and other coastal communities on Matthew.
“We should have a much better idea about what, if any threat, Matthew will pose to Georgetown County next week,” said Sam Hodge, Georgetown County’s Emergency Manager. “In the meantime, we are reviewing operational plans and taking actions to get ready in case the storm does head our way.”
In conference calls over the weekend, SCEMD Director Kim Stenson, S.C. Emergency Response Teams, county emergency managers and the NWS shared current status updates and discussed emergency plans.
“It’s too soon to rule out any possibilities,” Stenson said in a release from SCEMD. “Hurricane Matthew has quickly strengthened into a dangerous storm and its projected path could put South Carolina in harm’s way. Fortunately, people in South Carolina have time. While we hope we never see a hurricane head our way, we all need (to) prepare for the possible effects.”
In an Horry County release Sunday morning, officials said they will continue to monitor the storm closely and review all operational plans. The Horry County Emergency Operations Center has not been activated, but the release advised residents to stay tuned to local media for updates on Matthew.
Hodge encourages local residents to use this time to make sure they have emergency plans in place for their families and businesses and to review those plans with all family members and employees. In a release Sunday, he told residents to review evacuation routes and check emergency supply kits to make sure necessary items are included.
Preparedness information is detailed in the 2016 S.C. Hurricane Guide, available at Walgreen’s stores statewide, at all rest areas and for download at scemd.org.
Other preparedness tips from Horry County Emergency Management can be found at http://bit.ly/2cKjTu6.
Things to include in emergency supply kits:
- Weather radio with extra batteries
- Non-perishable food (for at least three days)
- Water (two gallons per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation)
- Flashlights with extra batteries and bulbs
- First aid kit
- Non-electrical can opener
- Necessary medications and prescriptions
- Needed supplies for any children
- Needed supplies for any pets
- Important documents (insurance policies, photo ID, tax records, bank information, etc.)
- Toiletries and other personal hygiene items
- Cash and credit cards
- Cell phone with portable chargers