Did you evacuate Beaufort County for Florence? Here’s what to know before coming home

As the forecast in Beaufort County continues to improve for the weekend and schools prepare to reopen Monday, residents who decided to evacuate for Hurricane Florence — now a tropical storm — are planning their return home.

As of Friday evening, Beaufort County is only expected to receive less than one inch of rainfall — with possibly more in certain areas — from Saturday through Monday, according to James Bob Bright, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Higher winds and rain are expected to begin Saturday afternoon.

For those who want to get back into the county as soon as possible, here’s what you should know.

Travel conditions

If you evacuated south are are planning to head home Friday, it looks like it’ll be smooth sailing.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, traffic moving north on I-95 from Florida and Georgia up to the Hilton Head exit remained light. No major accidents were causing congestion and the weather along the route appeared to be clear.

Eastbound traffic on U.S. 278 right after the I-95 exit on Friday night was about 56 percent lower than usual.

For residents going back to Hilton Head Island, the toll on the Cross Island Parkway was still lifted as of Friday.

The toll was waived starting Tuesday ahead of the mandatory evacuation order that South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued for the coast ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Although McMaster lifted the order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday, the toll has remained lifted since then.

If you evacuated north of Beaufort County or inland toward Columbia, S.C., returning home Saturday or Sunday could be a little more difficult.

Tropical Storm Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. at 7:15 a.m. Friday as a category 1 hurricane, producing wind gusts of up to 95 to 105 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

As the storm’s track is expected to move slowly toward Columbia, most of the state’s Midland counties were under a storm watch or warning, including Richland and Lexington counties, according to the National Weather Service in Columbia.

The central Midlands are expected to see 3-6 inches of rainfall and 25 to 35 mph winds.

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