11 :42 p.m. Update: The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Beaufort County as Hurricane Michael moved through Georgia as a Category 1.
The warning will expire at 11:45 p.m.
A circulation appearance was seen on radar, said James Carpenter, meteorologist for the National Weather Service at about 11:05 p.m. He said the conditions also are favorable for a tornado in the region.
No tornadoes have been spotted, Carpenter said. The center previously said spotting the tornadoes would be difficult because they will likely be rain wrapped.
Carpenter was unable to give an exact location.
A Tornado Watch was issued for Beaufort County until 7 a.m. by the service at 11:35 p.m.
Ron Morales, a meteorologist with the the National Weather Service in Charleston, said the greatest wind threat likely will be between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday for South Carolina.
The hurricane made landfall along the Florida Panhandle as Category 4 storm with 155 mph sustained winds before 2 p.m., the National Hurricane Center reported.
The storm is expected to gradually weaken as it tracks northeast across Georgia and South Carolina, according to the hurricane center.
The Lowcountry, including Beaufort County, is under a tropical storm warning.
Sustained winds of 25-35 mph with gusts of 40-50 mph are possible, Morales said.
The wind is expected to be higher on the coastal islands, including Hilton Head, Daufuskie, and Hunting islands and in exposed areas along the Broad River.
Morales said wind gusts could get to 35-40 knots, gushing up to 50 knots over open waters, and some of those gusts could get close to beaches, especially those facing south or southeast where there’s exposure.
Georgia highway officials announced that the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah would close at 9 p.m. Wednesday because the wind will make the span dangerous for drivers.
The wind could down trees and cause power outages.
Tornadoes and rainfall
Rain-wrapped tornadoes are another risk from the storm, Morales said.
Morales said storms of this type on a track from the Gulf of Mexico “historically are good producers of tornadoes.”
But residents may have little or no warning if a tornado spins out of a heavy thunderstorm.
“They aren’t always easy to see, and they happen quickly,” Morales said. “They form and dissipate within 10 minutes.”
Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner addressed the risk to the county in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, including the possibility of tornadoes.
Rainfall and flooding are lesser risks for Beaufort County.
The Lowcountry could see another 2-4 inches of rain through Thursday, Morales said, explaining that areas inland are likely to see more and areas near the coast less.
“The reason our rainfall amounts are not very high is because this system is moving,” Morales said.
Other potential impacts through Thursday:
- Minor to moderate coastal flooding during each high tide cycle, in particular during the morning high tide Thursday on the South Carolina coast.
- Life-threatening rip currents.
- Some beach erosion.
Beaufort County forecast
Cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Showers likely, mainly this morning. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Highs in the mid 80s. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70 percent.
Tropical storm conditions expected. Cloudy. A chance of showers with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening, then showers likely with a chance of thunderstorms after midnight. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Lows in the upper 70s. Southeast winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, becoming south 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 70 percent.
Tropical storm conditions expected. Showers with a chance of thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Highs in the mid 80s. Southwest winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. Chance of rain near 100 percent.
Mostly cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, then a slight chance of showers after midnight. Breezy with lows in the upper 60s. West winds 20 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph, becoming northwest 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 50 percent.
Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower 80s. North winds 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly clear. Lows in the lower 60s.
Sunny. Highs in the upper 70s.
Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 60s.