South Carolina emergency officials upgraded the state’s emergency operating status as forecasters warn Tropical Storm Hermine is continuing on a path that could bring it into the Palmetto State on Friday.
The Emergency Management Division’s (SCEMD) upgrade to Operating Condition Level 4 is more procedural at this point — the second-lowest level simply means state officials are increasing the level of awareness while reviewing plans and procedures. The State Emergency Operations Center in Lexington County will also be staffed by select state agency personnel beginning Friday morning so they can better respond if help is requested by local authorities once the storm hits.
“We are learning forward and following this storm, and we encourage people in South Carolina to do the same,” said Kim Stenson, director of SCEMD. “Personal preparedness, personal plans, and awareness are very important in a situation such as this.”
As of noon Thursday, Hermine was roughly 135 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, moving northeast at 14 miles per hour and with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
While the National Weather Service is warning residents of northwest Florida to brace for possible hurricane conditions once Hermine comes ashore Thursday evening, in South Carolina the concern is more about the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding. Rainfall totals from 4-8 inches are expected across those parts of the Southeast affected by the storm.
Charleston officials warned residents to be careful if flooding occurs and not to drive through or play in the water. “If the water gets up high enough, you could see manhole covers displaced,” Deputy Chief John Tippett said in a Wednesday press conference. “People think they’re having a nice little wading event, then before you know it, they’re being drawn into a manhole cover that they can’t get out of.”
The weather service has issued a tropical storm warning for the entire South Carolina coast, in effect for all counties along the Atlantic. Hermine has slowed since Wednesday, but forecasters expect it to keep its tropical storm status when it reaches eastern South Carolina on Friday afternoon.