Even if the Lowcountry dodges the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, winds could cause massive storm surge.
Forecasters are warning residents not to relax just because Matthew is projected to weaken to a Category 1 storm before reaching South Carolina on Saturday. Instead, they worry the true danger will be the estimated foot of rain that is expected to fall and roughly 7-9 foot storm surges that could lash the Lowcountry.
According to the Post and Courier storm winds could kick up seas and a computer model used by the military is predicting 9 to 12-foot waves off Charleston. Those waves along with the storm surge could pound parts of the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and other barrier islands.
The mouth of Charleston Harbor would act like a funnel by taking in water and then forcing it on rivers and estuaries, which could, in turn make the water higher and travel further inland. Water from inland rivers can add more height to the surge.
James and Johns islands marsh regions could be underwater under this scenario. The same goes for lower-lying areas in Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island. Worse damage could come in the Beaufort and Hilton Head regions, where Matthew will be closer to shore before turning out to sea.
Forecasters on Thursday said there’s a 60 percent chance that Matthew’s surge could exceed 9 feet in the Charleston area.