The center of Tropical Storm Hermine is crossing the Savannah River along the Georgia-South Carolina border, according to a 2 p.m. advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center on Friday.
Hermine’s center was in Effingham County, Georgia at the time, about to cross the Savannah between the small towns of Estill and Hardeeville. The storm’s outer clouds have already been lashing the Midlands and Lowcountry, leading to dozens of reports about downed trees and power outages across the region, hitting the Beaufort and Bluffton areas particularly hard.
More than 27,000 power outages have been reported across South Carolina Electric & Gas customers by early Friday afternoon. Roughly 9,900 of those outages were in Beaufort County, while 8,400 were reported in Charleston County. Meanwhile, Palmetto Electric Cooperative reported 4,900 outages in the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton County region — roughly half of them due to a downed tree cutting off customers on Hilton Head Island.
“The joke is that every dead tree has fallen today,” Palmetto’s spokesman Tray Hunter told South Carolina Radio Network. “We’ve just got trees coming down and they’re bringing down lines and bringing down poles.”
Duke Energy Progress is reporting nearly 7,000 outages, largely in the Sumter region. A tornado warning was in effect earlier Friday afternoon for areas north of Sumter, but that was canceled within two hours. There were no reports of a tornado or serious injury in that area.
Flooding is also being reported in those low-lying areas that are usually prone to standing water in heavy storms. Flash flood warnings are in effect for much of the southern Midlands and Pee Dee regions towards the coast. The water levels have closed some roads, but no major thoroughfares at this point.
However, emergency officials in the towns south of Myrtle Beach are worried Hermine could pass through the region around high tide Friday night, which could lead to flooding along flat beachfront properties and roads. Officials in Surfside Beach have closed parts of Ocean Boulevard — which runs parallel to the beach — due to flooding concerns.
Winds around 50 miles per hour have been recorded in Charleston Harbor, according to the National Weather Service. City officials are warning drivers to be careful crossing the Ravenel Bridge over the harbor as the winds continue.