Meteorologists say it is looking increasingly likely that Hurricane Florence will come ashore in one of the Carolinas later this week, but the models are not yet sure where.
The latest National Hurricane Center projection on Sunday night shows practically the entire South Carolina or North Carolina coast within the potential landfall zone. However, officials say it is still too early to know the storm’s path as it moves closer to the East Coast.
“Landfall along coastal South Carolina is still a possibility,” National Weather Service forecaster John Quagliarriello said in a briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Pine Ridge. “Remember, the storm is still five days out. And changes to the track can, and likely will, occur.”
During the same briefing, Gov. Henry McMaster warned South Carolinians to start taking precautions. “Whatever happens, we’re going to have a lot of rain and a lot of wind,” he told reporters. “Even if the hurricane goes farther north than is anticipated.”
As of 11pm Sunday, Florence was roughly 685 miles southeast of Bermuda. Forecasters say it will likely reach Carolina waters by Thursday on its current path, although it could potentially be another two or three days before its eventual track becomes more apparent.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday, with winds up to 75 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center predicts it will strengthen again into a major hurricane by Monday night.
McMaster declared a state of emergency on Saturday to help make it easier for emergency officials to activate state resources. The Governor’s Office is also requesting a federal disaster declaration from the White House, which would allow the state to be reimbursed for any prep work or post-storm cleanup.
State officials are already preparing for a possible landfall. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has ordered 125 buses to be staged in Orangeburg for possible use in an evacuation. Agencies are also prepositioning crews to help with road closures or storm damage repairs, if needed.
SCEMD has moved to Operating Condition 3, which means it is preparing for a possible large-scale disaster in the future.