Gov. Nikki Haley has declared a state of emergency and agencies have been directed to prepare together for Hurricane Joaquin and potential flooding, according to the state Emergency Management Division.
Charleston County Emergency Management also moved to OPCON 4 at 5 p.m. today. Opcon 4 is the “possibility of an emergency or disaster situation that may require a partial or full activation of the Charleston County Emergency Operations Center.”
Officials said they are closely monitoring heavy rains and the path of Joaquin.
“The major threat to the area is significant flooding and heavy rains throughout the weekend,” according to an announcement this afternoon.
The following Charleston County’s downtown facilities will be closed Friday: Charleston County Library branches; the Judicial Center Complex in downtown Charleston; the Charleston Center; and Magistrate Court on Morrison Drive.
The Public Services Building, located at 4045 Bridge View Drive will operate on a normal schedule.
The Weather Channel confirms that Jim Cantore is heading to Charleston Saturday morning. He was here for the big storm of January 2014, fending off a young man who ran on camera with a knee.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the Charleston area until 7:30 p.m.
The flooding has closed Huger at King, President and Cannon, America at Lee, Gadsden and Bennett, according to Charleston police. One lane on Rutledge is open from Fishburne south to the Crosstown.
One lane of Fort Johnson at Folly Road is closed headed towards Folly Road and traffic is stalled on the James Island Connector.
The Crosstown has reopened, as well as Calhoun, South Market, the southbound lane of Lockwood and the inside lane at Broad and Lockwood. North Market, Fishburne and Interstate 526 have also reopened. Hagood, Coming and Morrison and Nassau and Cooper are now reopened.
As heavy rain moves into the Charleston area, several other roads remained closed because of tidal flooding, including Wentworth at Barre, Lockwood at Broad, East Bay between Jackson and Cooper.
In North Charleston, the following roads are closed: Meeting Street Road/Spruill Avenue merge to Kingsworth Ave (Union Heights); a portion of Joppa Avenue (Union Heights); Jacksonville Road and Carner Avenue; Cosgrove Avenue from Rivers Avenue to Azalea Road; Kephart Street (runs outside of the old Navy Base) from McMillian Avenue to Reynolds Avenue.
Schools in Charleston and Dorchester counties will be closed Friday due to inclement weather, the districts announced.
Events that were planned outside this weekend are also being canceled, including the Charleston Farmers Market that’s a Saturday tradition.
The Charleston Greek Festival that was planned for this weekend has also been postponed. A post on the festival’s Facebook page says it’s rescheduled for Oct. 16-18 because of the weather.
The Oktoberfest that was planned for Sunday on Daniel Island has also been canceled, with no plans to resceduled it this year, according to a Charleston Batter spokesman.
Also, the Fall Festival for schools on Johns and Wadmalaw islands schools has been changed to Oct. 24, according to the Charleston County School District.
The Charleston police Citizens Advisory Group meeting that was scheduled to meet tonight at the John L. Dart Library has also been canceled.
The Berkeley County School District has canceled all extracurricular activities that were scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Stratford is set to play Summerville at Stratford at 7 p.m. tonight. The following games are set for 7 p.m. Monday: Berkeley vs. Beaufort at Berkeley, Cross vs. Burke at Cross, Hanahan vs. Hilton Head at Hilton Head High and Timberland vs. Kingstree at Timberland.
Heavy rains could bring significant flooding to the Charleston area tonight through Saturday. Rain is moving into the area ahead of Hurricane Joaquin, which is expected to pass by Charleston early Sunday morning.
Because of tropical moisture streaming north ahead of the Category 3 hurricane that’s buffeting the Bahamas, combined with a cold front that will stall offshore, heavy rains and flash flooding are possible in the Charleston area through Saturday, according to the weather service.
Between 5 to 9 inches of rain are possible, with 10 inches falling in some places. The risk of flooding will be greater a few hours on either side of high tide.
“This has the potential to become a significant rain event with widespread flash flooding,” according to the weather service.
Friday’s chance of heavy rain is 100 percent, with 1 to 2 inches possible.
Saturday’s chance of heavy rain is 90 percent, with another 2 to 3 inches possible.
Sunday should be partly sunny, with a 40 percent chance of rain, according to the weather service.
At 2 p.m. Joaquin had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum winds near 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was about 70 miles southeast of San Salvador in the Bahamas, moving southwest at about 6 mph.
Joaquin is expected to pick up speed and move up the East Coast Friday and Saturday. It should pass by Charleston well out to sea early Sunday morning, possibly bringing more rain into the area. There’s a chance of landfall early Monday morning, possibly in southern North Carolina, according to the latest model from the National Hurricane Center.
Andrew Knapp, Christina Elmore and Melissa Boughton contributed to this story. Reach Dave Munday at (843) 937-5553.