Wednesday saw the State of South Carolina enter into an official State of Emergency due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Irma. Store shelves were cleared and long lines at the gas pumps started throughout the area, with several stations running out of gas altogether.
The Beaufort County’s Sheriff’s Office held an emergency press conference on Wednesday to discuss the threat.
“This is not Matthew. This is Irma; it’s a completely different scenario and it’s going to be significantly more impactful to South Carolina than Hurricane Matthew was.,” Emergency Management Commander Lt. Col. Neil Baxley said. “That report is coming directly from the National Weather Service.”
The National Weather Service says that the storm will certainly make a right turn into the states. Where it makes its landfall determines how hard it will hit Beaufort County.
One of the scenarios presented by Baxley includes the coast of South Carolina being hit by a category 3 Hurricane.
Most of Beaufort County would likely be 10-to-15 feet underwater, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said. During last year’s Hurricane Matthew, part of Beaufort County was four feet under water, he added.
Beaufort County has not seen a Category 3 hurricane in over 100 years. Matthew was a Category 2 when it hit Beaufort last fall.
Baxley laid out three likely scenarios for Hurricane Irma with the third being the most extreme and the first being the least extreme. Baxley stated that according to current storm path modeling, the third scenario is the most likely to occur.
Other possibilities for Irma’s path include heading in the gulf and into the Florida panhandle. The storm could also make landfall in south Florida and lose some speed as it travels north. One could only hope.
The risk of tornadoes and heavy rains are possible.
The department will conduct another press conference Thursday.
It’s expected that an evacuation order will go into effect for Beaufort sometime over the weekend, most likely on Saturday, if Irma continues on her expected path.
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