Hurricane Dorian is expected to hit Myrtle Beach and Horry County during the night on Wednesday through Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service. The storm will be most dangerous during the day on Thursday.
“Conditions will deteriorate from south to north Wednesday into Thursday,” Mark Willis with the NWS said.
The NWS predicts the storm will graze the South Carolina coastline with a 80 to 90 percent chance of bringing tropical storm force winds and life-threatening storm surge to the area. Coastal areas also face a 40 percent of getting hurricane force winds on Thursday in excess of 70 miles per hour.
Willis said to expect downed trees, power lines and other debris as the storm comes through.
Flash flooding in coastal areas will be a major concern especially on Thursday. River flooding like what happened during Hurricane Florence is not expected at this time, but the Waccamaw River could hit moderate flood levels.
Since the 9:30 a.m. weather report the threat levels from wind and surge were upgraded in the NWS update.
It is important to remember that even a slight change in the storm’s path could have huge consequences for Horry County. If it veers to the west, the chances of hurricane force winds greatly increase.
Willis reminded drivers to avoid traveling on flooded roads.
“Do not drive the flooded roadways. That is where the vast majority of deaths occur during these events,” he said.
Horry County is now under a hurricane warning which is essentially a final call for getting preparations completed ahead of the storms arrival.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington released current river flood forecasts, saying the Little Pee Dee River at Galivants Ferry and the Waccamaw River at Conway could potentially see moderate flooding through Sept. 10 for Hurricane Dorian. Currently, both rivers are not at flooding level.
Hurricane Dorian has weakened to a Category 2, the National Weather Service reports. The storm has sustained winds at 109 mph and is moving northwest at 2 mph.
The Grand Strand coast is officially under Hurricane Watch, according to the National Hurricane Center. The southern coast of South Carolina is under Hurricane Warning.
Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the Grand Strand is still uncertain. A slight change in the storm’s path could have large consequences.
“We’re going to be at the mercy of a 20 to 30 mile shift to the east or west,” Steve Pfaff with the National Weather Service said in an update.
Current predictions have the storm arriving in northeastern South Carolina late Wednesday night. It will grow more intense into Thursday during the day with a 30 to 40 percent chance of the area seeing hurricane force winds.
Pfaff said to expect wind gusts up to 75 mph that could threaten weaker structures and unsecured items like chairs, umbrellas or weak trees.
In terms of rainfall, the area can expect 6 to 10 to inches to fall, with isolated areas along the coast receiving more than 15 inches of rain. This is going to create a high probability for flash flooding that could make driving unsafe.
The NWS will be producing a report on what river flooding might occur after Dorian hits. Pfaff said the biggest concern is for rivers that start close to the coastline, but at this time no major flooding is expected.
“We’re going to have a copious amount of rain, but it will be less than what we saw in Florence,” Pfaff said.
Also, don’t take your boat out on the ocean during the storm. Pfaff said waves could reach peaks of 35 feet high. The rough seas will also lead to a potentially life-threatening storm surge that is expected to surpass what was experienced in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.
The Chapin Memorial Library is also closed as of Tuesday, according to a tweet from the City of Myrtle Beach.
And the City of Conway moved into Opcon 1. Its Emergency Operations Center will open Wednesday night ahead of the storm’s arrival. It is also opening a sandbagging operation at 1601 Sherwood Drive.
With no significant changes overnight, Hurricane Dorian is on track to make its closest approach to South Carolina by Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
Category 3 Dorian continues to slam the Bahamas, leaving at least 5 people dead and bringing massive flooding, the Associated Press reports. The storm went from no movement to 1 mph Tuesday morning, with sustained winds at 121 mph, the weather service reports.
The weather service issued a rip currents statement for Horry and Georgetown counties from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, warning of strong, life-threatening rip currents.
The Grand Strand area could experience flooding, rain, storm surge, strong winds and a few tornadoes as Dorian’s eye is projected to hug the coast from Florida and continue north.
In a 6 a.m. update, the NWS in Wilmington said, “Please note that given the sharp angle of incidence as the storm moves up the Southeast U.S. Coast that any subtle change to the storm’s track can significantly alter the impacts received across southeast NC and northeast SC.”
There is an 80 to 90 percent chance coastal areas will get tropical-storm-force winds and the potential for hurricane-force winds is 30 to 40 percent. Northeast South Carolina is expected to see tropical-storm-force winds Wednesday night, and any hurricane-force winds that happen would be Thursday, the NWS reports.
The Myrtle Beach area could get up to 7.45 inches of rainfall, according to the latest update. Coastal waves could reach up to 20 feet, and conditions will worsen through Wednesday, peaking Thursday and gradually improving Friday, the NWS reports.
Tuesday morning, Dorian’s southern eyewall remains around Grand Bahama Island, and hazards including wind gusts of 150 mph and storm surge up to 15 feet above normal tide levels will continue around the island through Tuesday.