Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The Palmetto state is already feeling the affects of Hurricane Matthew.
Here is the latest on the storm and what is may do over the weekend.
Matthew currently is a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 120 miles an hour. The storm is located less than 40 miles off shore from Melbourne, FL.
A hurricane warning is in effect along the South Carolina coast from the Georgia/South Carolina border all the way to the South Santee River just north of Charleston. A warning means hurricane conditions are possible in that region within the next 36 hours. A tropical storm warning is in effect from the South Santee River to Surf City, NC. That warning includes the cities of Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, NC.
In addition to the warnings along the coast, a flash flood watch is now in effect Friday morning for the following Midlands counties: Richland, Lexington, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Sumter, Clarendon, Lee, Kershaw and Fairfield. The watch will last until Sunday morning.
The path of Matthew has shifted slightly to the west and north, which means the center of circulation may still reach land, even in Florida. Keep in mind, the track still can change over the next 36 hours as it has been doing all week. However, that in no way limits the potentially catastrophic effects Matthew may have on that state. At present, it's expected to go up along the eastern Florida shoreline, then begin to move away from Florida near Jacksonville. Before it does, it's expected to flood coastal communities with deadly storm surge and torrential rain.
By late Friday, the first wind and rain will begin moving into the Low Country of South Carolina, near Savannah and Hilton Head. Over much of the day, the storm will slowly work it's way north, hugging the coastline but never actually moving in. By early Saturday evening into early Sunday morning, it's expected to turn away from the South Carolina coast, and potentially make a loop that would take it on a course back to the Bahamas. We still will have to watch the track of the storm by late next week.
IMPACTS ON SOUTH CAROLINA:
The greatest effect will be for coastal communities in the Lowcountry. While the are may be spared hurricane force sustained winds (although they may see gusts above 73 miles an hour) the real threat will be the combination of heavy rain and storm surge. Some islands from Charleston to Hilton Head could actually be covered by water during the course of the storm. As much as 8-14 inches of rain could fall in the Lowcountry. The storm surge will be between 4 to 8 feet.
Further inland, the effects will taper off, but it's not unlikely that the southern and eastern Midlands could see 3-8 inches of rain. The central Midlands could see between 1-5 inches, with the northern Midlands likely not seeing much rainfall at all. Overall, the Midlands will also see occasional gusty winds the entire day, perhaps as high as 50 miles an hour in some spots.
In general, News19 Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy says I-95 will be the barrier: anything south of that line will get the greatest effects, while north of the line will get less.
Do keep in mind that rainfall projection models shift every time new data gets put into the computer. Those runs are made multiple times a day, so it's hard to tell the exact totals that every town may receive. However, the general forecast is the same every time: the closer you are to the coast, the more rain you're going to see.
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