Michael ‘most intense hurricane’ to strike Florida panhandle since 1851, says FEMA admin
This story was updated at 2 p.m.
After coming ashore as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, Michael made its way across the Carolinas Thursday. The Grand Strand area saw tropical storm- force winds and little rain on Thursday as Michael moved away from the area mid-afternoon.
Winds along the Grand Strand began to pick up overnight and the National Weather Service in Wilmington recorded 35 mph wind speed by 4 a.m. Thursday. As of 2 p.m., Michael was about 160 miles northwest of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center reported Michael moving north at 23 mph as of 2 p.m. — slightly faster than the 21 mph pace at 8 a.m. — with sustained winds at 39 mph. Horry and Georgetown counties are under a flash flood watch into early Friday morning, the NWS in Wilmington reports.
The Grand Strand is under a high-surf advisory until Friday morning and could see a surf height between 8 to 12 feet today. The NWS warns chances of rip currents throughout the day, with the worse currents within a four-hour window at low tide, which is expected at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“The event is not over yet,” said Daniel Brown, senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, on a 8:30 a.m. Facebook Live update. “Folks need to stay hunkered down if they are in the path.”
A 6 a.m. update from the Weather Service in Wilmington lowered the rain expectations for coastal areas, predicting less than half an inch for all of Horry County and a quarter-inch or less along the coast.
The update forecasts up to an inch and a half of rain in Florence and one inch for Marion.
The storm is forecast to pass over the Carolinas Thursday, bringing up to six inches of rain to some inland area, according to the National Hurricane Center. Much of the Midlands and upstate region could see 2 to 4 inches of rain Thursday.
The most recent forecast along the beach calls for winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusts up to 45 mph, along with an inch of rain over the course of the day.
The entire region is under a tornado watch. The Weather Service is also warning of a 1- to 3-foot storm surge.
With the ground still saturated from Hurricane Florence last month, the Weather Service warns that the winds could knock down trees and cause power outages.
Inland Horry County will also see about an inch of rain, according to the latest Weather Service forecast, and 20 to 30-mph winds Thursday.
The Waccamaw River is still at moderate flood stage, but Thursday’s rains are not expected to cause additional problems along the river, the Weather Service notes.
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting; Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong