Irene to bring winds, rain, flooding Friday
Hurricane Earl packed 125 mph winds out to sea last year when it passed 300 miles off the Lowcountry. The swells tore up the beaches, crashing over the rock revetment along the street at the Folly Beach washout.
Hurricane Irene blasts by after midnight Friday, only half as far away and likely just as strong. The Lowcountry coast is under a tropical storm warning.
High winds and squalls are expected far enough inland that Lake Moultrie also is under a tropical storm warning. The worst will come as the storm approaches. The National Weather Service expects the swells to begin to peak Friday around high tide about 6:30 p.m. That’s sure to flood at least some downtown streets.
“Any rain shows won’t help the fact,” said weather service meteorologist Julie Packett. Beach erosion “is always a factor.”
Irene is a monster. Hurricane winds stretched 80 miles out from the eye today.
It wobbled toward the Florida coast early today and National Hurricane Center forecasters nudged its expected path 50 miles closer to Charleston, at about 150 miles offshore.
The difference is that now the Lowcountry has a storm. Conditions will deteriorate in the afternoon and ease up after midnight.
School has been canceled for students in Charleston County School District.
Irene was expected to come ashore Saturday in North Carolina with 115 mph winds and a storm surge of 5 to 10 feet. It could dump a foot of rain, with as much as 15 inches falling in some places along the coast and around Chesapeake Bay.
Scientists predict Irene will then chug up the coast. Some forecasts showed it taking dead aim at New York City, with its eye passing over Brooklyn and Manhattan before weakening and trudging through New England.
If the storm strikes New York, it will probably be a Category 1 or 2, depending on its exact track, hurricane specialist John Cangialosi said.
Hurricanes are rare in the Northeast because the region’s cooler seas tend to weaken storms as they approach, and they have to take a narrow track to strike New York without first hitting other parts of the coast and weakening there.
Wind: Pick up Friday afternoon into early night. Gusts possibly to 55 mph along the coast. Potential tropical storm force winds 40 mph or more in Charleston, portions of Berkeley County. 30-35 mph farther inland,
Rain: 1/2 inch to 1 inch close to coast, more in isolated areas. Inland, 1/2 inch.
Surf: High surf advisory. 6-10 foot breakers.
Rip Current: High risk, Friday through Saturday, possibly Sunday.
Shallow coastal flooding including the Charleston peninsula: High tide Friday evening.
Beach erosion: high tide Friday evening.
Saturday: Breezy. Cloudy then clearing. Chance of showers. Highs in the low 90s.
Source: National Weather Service, Charleston
Schools: School has been canceled for students in Charleston County School District.