The path of Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 4 hurricane, changed drastically Friday night and now may directly impact Beaufort County around Wednesday or Thursday next week, according to Steve Rowley, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
“There have been major changes over the last 24 hours. Earlier, we were concerned about coastal flooding and rain, now we may be dealing with a hurricane,” he said Saturday morning.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency at noon on Saturday.
“The executive order enables all state agencies to coordinate resources and sets into effect the State Emergency Operations Plan ... and begin mobilizing assets and resources to be staged along the coast ahead of any potential impact from Hurricane Dorian,” according to the S.C. Emergency Management Division.
Beaufort County falls within the “cone of uncertainty” — a five-day outlook based on historical data projecting a 60-70% chance the tropical cyclone will remain within the track during that time frame.
Considering that one-third of hurricanes fall outside of these projected cones, it’s important to note that Dorian’s projected path is still uncertain. At 8 a.m. Saturday, Dorian was 640 miles southeast of Charleston, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.
Dorian was moving west at 8 mph Saturday evening, down from 9 mph Friday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm has sustained wind speeds of around 150 mph, but is likely to slow down as it nears the Florida coast, Rowley said. When it does that, there’s a greater chance the hurricane will curve upward and directly impact coastal Georgia and South Carolina.
“Everything we thought about this hurricane a couple of days ago ... everything has changed,” he said.
The most recent model from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm brushing the coast of central Florida and affecting the Beaufort County and Savannah areas early Thursday.
But, forecasters say since the storm is several days away, Beaufort County residents should keep an eye on the most updated forecast over the holiday weekend and into next week.
“There will be different forecasts and changes in the next couple of days. I don’t think this is the final picture,” Rowley said.
Local residents are wasting no time preparing.
Shelves of water at Kroger in Bluffton were sold out Friday evening and stores such as Walmart and Target were busy with people stocking up on necessities Saturday morning.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office decided Saturday to activate its Emergency Operations Center at 12 p.m. Sept. 1 “to increase our state of preparedness for Hurricane Dorian,” a release from the department said Saturday.
Flooding on Hilton Head Island
Beaufort County can expect anywhere form 6 to 15 inches of rain from Hurricane Dorian, according to the weather service. A majority of that rain will fall between Tuesday night and Thursday, a forecaster from the weather service said in a 12 p.m. statewide news conference.
“Dorian is an upper-end category 4 (hurricane). If it strengthens anymore, it’ll be a category 5,” the forecaster said.
According to the 12 p.m. briefing from the National Weather Service, all coastal South Carolina counties are under a coastal flooding watch until Saturday night.
There is also a moderate risk of rip currents, and local lifeguard services have warned weak swimmers to stay out of the water, according to an Instagram post by Shore Beach Service on Hilton Head.
On Saturday morning, Shore Beach posted a video showing a strong rip current at South Beach on Hilton Head.
“With Dorian churning, there will be an increase(d) chance of rip currents for the next several days. Be extra cautious!,” the post said.
“Moderate to major levels of tidal flooding are expected through at least the middle of next week, even if Dorian remains well away from the area,” according to the Saturday morning briefing from NWS Charleston. “Additionally, the threat for flooding rainfall is increasing during the middle into late next week.”
High tides with a northeast wind have made the tides more powerful on the island, Andrew Carmines, owner of Hudson’s Seafood on the Docks told The Island Packet Saturday morning. Hudson’s saw a powerful tide Friday night that flooded the area between the restaurant and the outdoor dock.
Although common at high tide at the restaurant, Carmines said the wind gave the tide the “push” it needed to bring small amounts of water into the bar.
Hudson’s outdoor area was mostly destroyed in Hurricane Matthew in 2016. After having recovered from that storm, Carmines said his plan is to keep a close eye on this one.
“Part of me wants to be anxious, but there’s nothing we can really do,” he said of Dorian on Saturday morning. “By next week either we’ll be breathing a sigh of relief or getting to work. Let’s just stay calm.”
Forecast for Hilton Head Island
Saturday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 83. Northeast wind 9 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Saturday night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 79. Northeast wind 8 to 14 mph.
Sunday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Sunday night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 77. Northeast wind around 14 mph.
Labor Day: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 86. Northeast wind around 16 mph. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Monday night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 77.
Tuesday: Tropical storm conditions possible. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 86.
Tuesday Night: Hurricane conditions possible. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 77.
Wednesday: Hurricane conditions possible. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Wednesday night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a low around 76. Strong and damaging winds. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Thursday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. Very windy.
Thursday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74.
Friday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85.
Source: NWS Charleston