Forecasters say Tropical Storm Hermine has shifted in the Gulf of Mexico, moving its projected route further west on a path that could bring it across central South Carolina by week’s end.
A new National Hurricane Center advisory states Hermine was roughly 350 miles west-southwest of Tampa as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, with winds of 40 miles per hour. Forecasters had been referring to the storm as “Tropical Depression 9” until it became a tropical storm. The Hurricane Center believes the storm could be near hurricane strength by the time landfall occurs.
The storm was moving in a west-southwest motion, but forecasters say it turned northeast towards northwest Florida as its wind speed increased. Models show the depression intensifying as it moves towards Florida’s “Big Bend,” potentially making landfall Thursday night. The models predict the storm or its remnants could reach eastern South Carolina by Friday afternoon.
At this point, there are no storm warnings for South Carolina. However, NWS meteorologists say rip currents are still a danger along parts of the Lowcountry and Grand Strand coasts. Turbulent water caused by the offshore Hurricane Gaston and another tropical depression near North Carolina are being blamed for riptides and waterspouts reported this week. Charleston County officials say a tourist from Tennessee drowned on the Isle of Palms beach Monday from a suspected current.
South Carolina officials are preparing for potential tropical storm conditions this weekend as a precaution. The state Department of Transportation says its road maintenance crews are preparing to respond to damage or downed debris, if needed. They’re urging residents not to drive into standing water if flooding occurs. Horry County officials are also urging residents to begin securing outdoor furniture and other items in anticipation of strong winds.