Squalls, gusty wind worst of Arthur for Lowcountry

With Hurricane Arthur offshore, pelicans skim rough surf early Thursday at Isle of Palms.

The aftermath of Hurricane Arthur in the Lowcountry might be just a sunny, summer Fourth of July. As the storm pulled away from the state Thursday night, forecasters were calling for highs in the 90s Friday, clear skies and no chance of rain.

"It's going to be hot," said meteorologist Emily Timte, with the National Weather Service in Charleston. "Just perfect timing for this (storm) to pull away."

By 5 p.m. Thursday the hurricane's eye was moving into waters offshore of North Carolina. The weather service had cancelled its wind advisory for Charleston, and expected to lower its rip current risk advisory later in the evening.

"Things are definitely going to come down pretty quickly," Timte said.

The passing hurricane didn't disrupt the Lowcountry much. It brought up surf, kicked a few wind gusts and dropped as much as two inches of rain in Bulls Bay. But the official reading was only .16 inches at the weather service office in North Charleston.

Local beach officials were still waiting Thursday evening for surf to die down enough to assess erosion, but first impression was that it didn't look to be too much, said Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin.

Even in McClellanville, the tiny fishing town at the north edge of Charleston County where the storm passed closest, residents didn't see any worse.

Rescuers in the Charleston area Thursday fielded occasional calls about swimmers or boaters in distress, but there were no immediate reports of missing people or injuries.

Around 12:15 p.m., the Coast Guard responded to a report about an overturned kayak in Charleston Harbor south of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

A petty officer at the local Coast Guard sector in Charleston said a motorist on the bridge had spotted what looked like a capsized yellow kayak near the southern tip of Drum Island.

But the passing motorist also said she might have seen a buoy, the petty officer said.

Rescuers on the water later reported finding nothing during their search efforts. They said the motorist likely had mistaken a channel marker in Charleston Harbor for a kayak.

Because of the weather, a crowd began to gather at the Isle of Palms beach early Thursday.

A couple threw tennis balls into the surf for their two black Labradors. Firefighters drove up and down the sand in an all-terrain vehicle with an attached American flag whipping in the wind. Hotel workers set up chairs and umbrellas. Shutterbugs snapped photographs of the turbulent seas.

Laurie Ulmer grabbed his surfboard and tested what he estimated were 6-to 8-foot waves.

The 52-year-old Sullivan's Island resident squeezed in a few sets Thursday morning before heading to work.

"It's been flat all year until now," Ulmer said. "There's a bad rip current, but it's nice."

Those rip currents were dragging surfers quickly southward from the Isle of Palms Pier. By the time he caught two waves, Ulmer said, they had swept him from the pier to Coconut Joe's restaurant.

"I wasn't sure if it was a hurricane," he said. "I just saw the surf conditions and came out. ... I'll be back after work."

Casey Glowacki, a Mount Pleasant restaurateur who owns Sesame Burgers and Beer and Five Loaves Cafe, also spent the morning on a surfboard instead of in the office.

He spoke in knee-deep water as the skies opened up and began to pour. Under the ocean's surface, murky water tugged at his legs.

"It's drifty, big currents and fun waves," Glowacki said. "It's just pulling you down the beach.

"But you've got to take it when you can get it in South Carolina."

The rip current dragged local surfers Emory Zimmerman and Casey Clawson from 29th Avenue to 9th Avenue in about 30 minutes, they said.

But for them, the conditions were a surprise.

"It's actually not as choppy as we thought," Clawson said. "It's ... probably one of the best for IOP lately."

Most of the waves came up to their waists or chests, but a few swells reached their heads, they said.

Zimmerman and Clawson aimed to squeeze in as much surfing as possible before the storm pulled away.

"It's definitely a treat," Zimmerman said.

But not everyone in Isle of Palms was happy about the weather Thursday.

A man and a woman emerged from a hotel along Ocean Boulevard to a light shower.

"Rain, rain," the man said, "go away."

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