Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Hurricane Matthew has begun to move along the Florida coast, and is expected to start affecting South Carolina's weather by the end of Friday.
Here is the latest on the storm and what it may do over the next two days.
Matthew currently is still a Category 4 major hurricane, with winds of 130 miles an hour. Category 4 is the second highest level of hurricane, and has the potential to cause "catastrophic" damage. The storm was moving to the northwest at 13 miles an hour.
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 will go into 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 east, which means the center of circulation likely may never reach land, even in Florida. 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 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 Lowcountry 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, 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.
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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