Some coastal flooding is expected, but currently it’s too soon to say what level of storm surge could impact the Grand Strand.
As of Friday morning, forecasters said confidence was growing that powerful Hurricane Irma would stay to the west of South Carolina, and some coastal flooding was likely coming, Steve Pfaff, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. said on a 10 a.m. conference call.
“As for storm surge watch and storm surge warning, it’s probably too early to tell at this time, 3-foot, above-ground level inundation is what would be the trigger point for that,” Pfaff said. “Right now, with limited confidence, we feel like we’ll be below that and may just have to handle that with a coastal flooding advisory for the oceanfront areas.”
Hurricane Irma downgraded somewhat to a still-powerful Category 4 storm, and while forecast models continued to keep her track westward, taking a ride up Florida’s backbone into Georgia, Pfaff warned she was still kicking up waves for Grand Strand beaches.
Higher-than-normal high tides bringing in some flooding could roll in Sunday morning and bring in more water with each high tide, with the biggest expected Monday about noon.
Confidence remained high Friday morning that the colossal storm would most likely not hug the east coast and create a huge storm surge, but forecasters warned that beach dwellers should not lower their guards.
“We’re totally not out of the realm of this, so I don’t want people to let their guard down,” said Pfaff, urging that residents maintain some basic storm prep mode.
Storm surge is key in whether S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster would order mandatory evacuations. The governor previously said that if he ordered evacuations, they would begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and he was expected to speak on this plan about 2 p.m. Friday.