Florence makes a wet, windy appearance in North Myrtle Beach
Here are live updates from the Grand Strand as Florence brings wind, rainfall and possibilities of major flooding.
Florence’s eye has moved through Horry County and sits 15 miles west northwest of Myrtle Beach while heading toward Florence. The tropical storm’s maximum sustained winds have dropped to 65 mph.
The storm is moving west southwest at 5 mph.
A storm surge warning is still in effect for Myrtle Beach up to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina.
On Friday evening, it was just another day at Wok Express on North Kings Highway.
Around 6:30 p.m., eight people filled the small restaurant, couples and families waiting on hot food that would give them a break from days of hurricane snacks.
The restaurant was one of the few open on the day Hurricane Florence made contact with the Carolina coast, a storm that had once been anticipated to hit Wednesday.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department on Oak Street is leaking after Hurricane Florence hit the Carolina coast on Friday.
According to Capt. Eric DiLorenzo, the leak is in the second floor of jail, which is near the victim’s advocate office.
Officials are working the bring tarps to control the leak. At this time, it is unclear how large the damage to the building is.
The center of Florence, now a tropical storm, moved slowly across the Grand Strand as night fell Friday. The deadly storm, which had been downgraded earlier in the evening, had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, far calmer than earlier in the day but still dangerous.
The major threat continues to be flooding: “Florence is expected to produce heavy and excessive rainfall,” according to the National Hurricane Center. Water continued to rise along Ocean Boulevard.
Curfews were in effect throughout the area.
As emergency officials continued to stand watch after an already long week, the City of North Myrtle Beach reported that it was experiencing delays in its 911 system. Residents with a medical emergency or other life-threatening issue who can’t get through to 911 should call the temporary emergency number: (843) 280-5511.
Florence is moving through the Grand Strand after being reclassified as a tropical storm, leaving several people without power.
Santee Cooper’s maps show 40,350 residents were without power between North Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, including the Conway and Loris areas. That accounts for more than 23 percent of its customers.
Horry Electric Cooperative Inc. maps showed 29,737 people without power. The largest outages were reported in the Brooksville, Longs, Nixonville, Shell and Four Mile communities, each with more than 2,000 customers without power.
As of the latest National Hurricane Center advisory, Florence has been downgraded from Category 1 hurricane to tropical storm as the eye was located 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach while heading west at 3 mph.
The storm surge warning for areas south of Myrtle Beach has been discontinued and the hurricane warning has been replaced with a tropical storm warning. Maximum sustained winds were at 70 mph as of the advisory.
A storm surge warning is still in effect for Myrtle Beach northward to Salvo, North Carolina. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Edisto Beach, South Carolina northward to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Hurricane Florence is moving through the Grand Strand, leaving several people without power. Santee Cooper reported that 38,900 residents were without power at 3:30 p.m. Horry County Electric maps showed 21,900 people without power.
The City of Myrtle Beach is reporting 10 downed power lines throughout city limits.
Palmetto Bays Elementary School is the only Horry County shelter that is currently at maximum capacity, according to county public information officer Kelly Moore.
The shelter, located off S.C. 544, has a shortage of cots, pillows and blankets, Red Cross officials said, leaving some people to sleep on the floor.
BJ Coleman, 38, said he is kicking himself for only bringing a blanket, thinking a cot would have been provided. He and his wife, Jessica Myers, have been sleeping on the floor every night since Tuesday, they said.
There are currently about 2,700 total people in Horry County shelters, Moore said.
Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said his department has pulled its resources off the street due to dangerous conditions.
“About an hour and a half ago we had to re-evaluate and we pulled our units off the street,” he said a little after 2 p.m.
HCPD is still responding to life safety calls, though.
“Stay off the roads, it’s much too dangerous,” he said. “We don’t want to have to add you to our rescue list.”
Hurricane Florence is weakening as it moves inland, according to the National Hurricane Center. “Torrential” rains are expected to continue.
The eye of the storm has continued to move slowly toward the North Carolina and South Carolina border.
Florence is now 35 miles from Myrtle Beach, the NHS reports. At a Category 1, the hurricane is moving at 6 mph.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Florence is now 55 miles away from Myrtle Beach, according to an update from the National Hurricane Service. The storm remains at a Category 1, moving 3 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles outward, the NHS reports.
Horry County Sheriff Chief Deputy Tom Fox just said to expect flood waters to be two feet higher than Matthew. Authorities are urging people to leave and seek higher grounds.
The City of Myrtle Beach has implemented a curfew that goes in effect from 7 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. Saturday.
North Myrtle Beach officials have halted emergency responses until storm conditions allow for personnel to respond safely.
Hurricane Florence just made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. A Category 1, Florence is moving about 6 mph.
The Myrtle Beach area will see consistent rainfall later this morning, said Steve Pfaff with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
“It’s going down the tubes in the next few hours,” Pfaff said during an 8:30 a.m. call.
Florence is moving southwest and expected to travel across Brunswick and Horry counties, Pfaff said. The eye of the storm is about 15 miles wide, he said. As the hurricane moves west, we will see storm surges. There is a tornado threat from Murrells Inlet going north along the Grand Strand, Pfaff said.
“This is a large hurricane,” Pfaff said.
The storm is about 65 miles from Myrtle Beach, the National Hurricane Center reports.
Life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds continue, according to the NHS. A flash flood warning has been issued for Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Little River until 8:30 p.m. today.
The Waccamaw River in Conway could reach record-level flooding with predictions of more than 23 feet, the NWS in Wilmington reported.
At sunrise along Ocean Boulevard’s most popular stretch, traffic lights swung and trees bent as wind gusts blew towards the ocean.
There were no locals in the area, which was populated with police and news media. A few tree branches fell into roads as a couple of store awning started to show tares.
Wind picked up sand grains off the beach and stung when they hit skin.
Waves remained light in the low tide as Hurricane Florence made its approach on the area.
The tide is not high and waves are small.
Hurricane Florence, a Category 1, is still moving at 6 mph with sustained winds at 92 mph.
The eye of the storm is about to make landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
Good morning, Grand Strand.
Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall on the North Carolina coast. It is moving at 6 mph with maximum wind gusts at 115 mph.
“Catastrophic” freshwater flooding is expected in South Carolina. Horry and Georgetown counties are under a flash flood watch until 7 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
The Waccamaw River in Conway and Little Pee Dee in Galivants Ferry are two Horry County areas expected to have major flooding, the National Weather Service in Wilmington reported about midnight Thursday.
At least two people was arrested today in connection to violating curfew orders, according to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center’s website.
Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765; @HannahLStrong