Governor declares state of emergency, as SC eyes Hurricane Irma’s potential path

Hurricane Irma’s location and potential path, as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. Cone shows possible paths for Irma’s center. Image: National Weather Service)

Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency Wednesday in anticipation of Hurricane Irma’s potential movement towards the South Carolina coast this weekend.

McMaster’s declaration enables the state Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) to launch its emergency operations center and makes its easier for various agencies to coordinate ahead of any storm.

“The state of emergency allows one of the best, most experienced emergency response teams in the entire world to begin organizing response efforts,” McMaster said in a statement. “South Carolina is fortunate to have time to allow us to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall, and it is important that families and individuals in vulnerable areas use that time to review safety plans in case they are needed.”

McMaster’s office said he will speak to media outlets at the SCEMD headquarters around 2 p.m. Wednesday. He will be joined by other state emergency response officials.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Irma was still an unusually strong Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds topping 185 miles per hour as it moves through the U.S. Virgin Islands towards Puerto Rico. The National Weather Service believes Irma’s center could reach South Florida by Sunday morning. After that, forecasters believe it will rotate northeast and towards the Southeast coast. The storm’s outer walls could reach South Carolina waters by Sunday evening, with the center arriving Monday afternoon.

SCEMD on Wednesday increased its readiness to OPCON 4, one lever higher than normal operations.

 

Some SC National Guard members in Texas for recovery effort

The South Carolina National Guard’s equipment and troops have arrived in Texas to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

A National Guard helicopter which is part of the SC-HART team departed McEntire Air Base near Eastover on Tuesday (Image: SCNG)

“South Carolina is prepared to help and also South Carolina has an eye the current weather situation ongoing in the tropics,” Sgt. First Class Joe Cashion told South Carolina Radio Network in reference to Hurricane Irma forming in the Atlantic. ” You never know what might be coming up.”

Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order Tuesday placing South Carolina National Guard on state duty in support of Texas.

Two UH-60 Black Hawk Army helicopters which are part of the SC Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams (SC-HART) were deployed, along with rescue swimmers from the State Fires Emergency Task Force. Both available teams will be deployed along with a ground team, which will total eight soldiers and nine rescue swimmers.

Cashion said they will do what is needed. “They are under the direction of the Texas National Guard. They are ready and willing to do whatever is asked of them,” Cashion said.

He said if more help is needed in Texas they will respond.  “If requested yes. South Carolina is prepared.”

He said they will remain in Texas as long as necessary.

University of South Carolina professor: Harvey’s damage may exceed Katrina’s

As the aftermath of Harvey continues to wreak havoc, the director of the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute its damage in dollars could be astronomical.

(Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

“I would not be surprised if, when we add it all up, losses exceed the $128 billion that resulted from Katrina,”director Susan Cutter told South Carolina Radio Network

“It’s a series of different kinds of hazards,” Cutter continued. “You’ve got the direct storm surge and high winds when Harvey made landfall in the southern part of the Texas coast.

Flooding is creating huge problems for south Texas. “Then you’ve got the enormous amounts of flooding and the atmospheric river contributing to that flooding over a very large piece of real estate,” Cutter said. An “atmospheric river” is a narrow corridor of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere.

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Cutter led a team of researchers who mapped storm-surge inundation along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable.

She also completed a 2011 survey of South Carolina hurricane evacuation behavior for the Army Corps of Engineers and South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

Coastal Carolina updates hurricane forecast

Hurricane researchers at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) have revised their late hurricane season forecast.

(Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The Charleston Post and Courier reports the latest forecast calls for a higher probability of Atlantic hurricane activity than their initial June report.

The latest Hurricane Genesis & Outlook (HUGO) Project at CCU is forecasting a near-to above-normal hurricane season for what is left of the 2017 hurricane season.

The June HUGO forecast only projected a slightly-below normal season. The latest HUGO outlook predicts eight named hurricanes this season, rather than the five predicted earlier.

The forecast predicts a likelihood of four major hurricanes of Category 3 or above as opposed to the two that were forecasted in June.

The revised forecast is based on factors from in late July and early August and expected climate signals for the upcoming months.

University of South Carolina researcher uses social media in research on eclipse

Now that the eclipse has come and gone through South Carolina, the research on it begins.

Image: NASA

University of South Carolina assistant geography professor Zhenlong Li told South Carolina Radio Network he is analyzing billions of geotagged tweets posted by more than 20 million global Twitter users “to map their locations before, during and after the eclipse.”

Li’s research focus is on geospatial big data processing, analytics and high-performance computing. He said his research can be used towards disaster management and climate analysis.

“This kind of data can be studied for movement patterns followed by a disaster like Hurricane Matthew,” Li said.

The project’s goal is to pinpoint which cities or states along the eclipse’s path of totality attracted the most people and identify the potential collective human movement patterns caused by the eclipse path.

His research also utilizes various technology such as cloud computing.

 

South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford introduces Disaster Assistance Equity Act

South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Beaufort, has introduced legislation which attempts to localize disaster assistance by allowing homeowners associations, condominiums and retirement communities to apply for emergency aid after a storm.

South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford. file

The Disaster Assistance Equity Act (H.R. 3238) would make “common interest communities” (such as condos, housing cooperatives or retirement communities) eligible for the same Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance available to traditional homeowners following a disaster.

It would also allow homeowners associations be eligible for the same Public Assistance Program grants that state and local governments can receive after a disaster. The grant money can be used for debris clearance and common infrastructure repair.

“I find it strange that FEMA treats the 70 million Americans who live in common interest communities differently than it does those who live in other types of communities,” Sanford said in a release. “In my experience, storms don’t discriminate between different kinds of communities. As such, it seems to me that FEMA should treat them all equally when it comes to the assistance available in the wake of a disaster.”

The bill has bipartisan support, although Sanford is the only Southern member of Congress to sign onto the measure so far. Other co-sponsors are U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, Eliot Engel, D-NY, Peter King, R-NY and Lee Zeldin, R-NY.