Published: Sun, September 10, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

McMaster cancels overseas Commerce trip as Irma approaches

McMaster cancels overseas Commerce trip as Irma approaches

McMaster says a change in Irma's track back east might require more evacuations.

Forecasts early Friday showed the storm likely to head north through Florida and into Georgia and Tennessee.

If Irma follows its current track, Midlands residents could face up to 7 inches of rain and wind gusts as strong as 50 miles per hour, experts said. Officials expect the storm to arrive in the state or near it late Monday or Monday night.

Approximately 44,457 SC residents are affected by the evacuations that went into effect Saturday morning on barrier islands in Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties, with the vast majority on Hilton Head Island.

Bulletin High School and Battery Creak High School in Beaufort County will open as shelters at 9 a.m. Sunday. Lane reversals along Interstate 26 would begin at that time as well.

"Right now we're making sure we have the right people and materials in the right places, and we're making plans to keep our customers and employees safe and communicating with them throughout the storm", said Aimee Murray, a spokeswoman for South Carolina Electric and Gas Co.

But experts warned S.C. residents to expect power outages and possible damage to poorly built mobile homes, trees, signs and outbuildings. He said this could result in flash flooding, especially in the mountainous terrain and the Upstate. Coastal roadways may also flood.

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McMaster cancels overseas Commerce trip as Irma approaches

Major coastal flooding is possible, threatening to cut off many coastal areas, including routes to and from barrier islands.

McMaster ordered 143 health care facilities along South Carolina's coast to evacuate their patients.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said the surge will come on top of high tides, called "King" tides.

He said it is possible Columbia could face hurricane-strength winds and the Upstate could be buffeted by tropical force winds, something that is unusual for SC.

Even as tensions have eased, hurricane and storm surge watches issued in the hurricane center's 11 a.m. update underscore that the state is not out of the clear entirely.

The University of South Carolina, Allen and Benedict universities, Columbia College, and the Richland 1, 2, Lexington 1, 2 and Lexington-Richland 5 school districts will be closed Monday.

The Columbia area is unlikely to experience hurricane-force winds but could see tornadoes Monday, forecasters said around midday Saturday.

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