Heavy rain has flooded U.S. Highway 17 in Georgetown County, causing officials to close the road to traffic into and out of the city.
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U.S. 17 is closed from Bourne Street to Winyah Street in both directions, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Myrtle Beach police report that Ocean Boulevard between 10th Avenue South and 11th Avenue South also has been closed due to flooding.
Meteorologists cautioned Grand Strand residents about potentially life-threatening flooding Sunday, saying much of the area is expected to get up to an additional 10 inches of rain through 8 a.m. Monday.
Steve Pfaff, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said the Waccamaw River around Conway is up to a 50 percent chance of reaching major flood levels.
“It’s a very dangerous situation given what we've received and what we're expecting,” he said, adding that he would release more detailed river information later Sunday morning. “River flooding is going to persist the whole week.”
Pfaff said Horry and Georgetown counties were among those expected to get the most rain and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Sunday morning that is expected to last until at least 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Up to 16 inches of rain have fallen in northeastern South Carolina over the past couple of days and the additional rainfall is expected to cause flash flooding.
“Horry [County] is going to be hit very hard,” he said. “It is a phenomenal amount of rain that’s following a phenomenal amount of rain that happened just a few days ago. On Monday there are still issues. There is a predicted 2 to 4 inches of rain on Monday, which will just prolong the issue.
“With high tide coming up between 1 and 1:30 [p.m.], tidal creeks are going to get backed up and you’re going to have flooding along tidal creek areas all across the region,” Pfaff said.
Meteorologists also called for the potential of an isolated tornado across coastal areas.
“It’s hitting the fan today,” Pfaff said.
National Weather Service meteorologists continue to call this weekend’s rain a “very dangerous weather situation.”
“In the hardest hit locations road failures are possible, shallow rooted trees in a saturated ground may be downed, people may become cut-off or stranded, and sink holes may form,” according to a briefing from NWS meteorologists. “Drainage ditches, retention ponds, streams and rivers will likely come out of their banks.”
A wind advisory also was in effect through Sunday, with the saturated ground combined with gusty winds causing trees to come down in some areas.
“We’re expecting gusts at 35 mph out of the northwest,” Pfaff said. “I anticipate you’ll see more trees down today throughout tonight.”
In addition to U.S. 17 in Georgetown, SCDOT reported 211 state roads and 43 bridges closed due to bridges closed due to flooding as of 11 a.m. Sunday and urges drivers to stay off the roads.
“The average vehicle can be swept away in as a little as 12 inches of moving water and stalled out in as little as two feet of water,”said Acting SCDOT Secretary Christy A. Hall in a statement.
Closures in Horry County, both in the Little River area, include S.C. Highway 57 from S.C. 90 to S.C. 9 the outside southbound lane of U.S. Highway 17 is from Bayshore Drive to Pinehurst Road in the Little River area is closed due to the shoulder being washed out.
SCDOT said residents can call the department’s customer service line at 855-467-2368 to find out about the latest road closures.
Georgetown County opened three emergency shelters Sunday morning as first responders in the city of Georgetown are reporting up to 4 feet of water. Crews are working to get residents out of their homes and to an emergency center – Beck Recreation Center, 2030 Church St. in Georgetown; Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center, 83 Duncan Road in Pawleys Island; and Andrews Recreation Center, 209 S. Maple St. in Andrews.
Some residents in North Myrtle Beach voluntarily evacuated their homes on Friday. Horry County opened a shelter for those who left their homes on Friday and on Saturday relocated it to Risen Christ Lutheran Church, located at 10595 N. Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, just south of Kings Highway.
Maya T. Prabhu: 843-444-1722, @TSN_mprabhu