Tropical Storm Andrea leaves power outages, downed trees across the Lowcountry

Sand bags line the beach at Isle of Palms. Photo courtesy of John Rector.

The National Weather Service confirmed that Tropical Storm Andrea has officially started to slacken as it continues to move northeast and away from the Lowcountry.

The county announced it will return to “normal operating condition” at noon because the storm no longer poses a threat to area residents. County beaches were reopened to swimmers in early afternoon. Dangerous surf conditions made Kiawah Beachwalker Park, Folly Beach Commercial District and Isle of Palms County Park too hazardous for swimming earlier today.

At about 11:20 a.m., NWS reported wind speeds at the airport were ranging between 15 and 20 mph and downtown between 13 and 23 mph during the last hour.

Overall, the storm hasn’t packed as much punch as anticipated.

There have been some reports of downed trees and power lines, causing pockets of power outages across the Lowcountry, but widespread flooding has not been an issue.

“We thankfully had a lot less rainfall than what we could have seen,” National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Packett said.

The Lowcountry is under a flash flood watch until noon today, but at 10:20 a.m., there were no reports of flooding or closed roads in Charleston, a city spokeswoman said.

By mid-morning, water on Hwy. 17 in the Awendaw-McClellanville area had receded and Guerrins Bridge Road reopened to traffic. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office urged residents to continue to use caution while driving in flood-prone areas.

Potentially forceful winds are more of a concern today than rain. Wind gusts reaching 48 mph were reported on Sullivan’s Island this morning, and 40 mph on Folly Beach, Packett said.

Reports of power outages and downed trees are spanning the Lowcountry. SCE&G officials report about customer outages statewide, including 4,100 in Charleston County.

About 2,500 outages were reported in West Ashley this morning and about 1,000 in James Island. Power should be restored to much of James Island by 9 a.m., SCE&G officials report.

What’s left of the storm’s eye is moving up Interstate 95, Packett said.

A flight out of Newark, N. J., that was expected to arrive at the Charleston International Airport has been canceled, airport spokeswoman Becky Beaman said. United Airlines flight 4104 was expected to arrive in Charleston at 9:41 a.m. before the cancelation, Beaman said.

More cancelations and delays are possible as Andrea heads north, Beaman said.

“Please check with airlines before leaving home to arrive at the airport,” she said.

All boats to Fort Sumter have been cancelled today due to high winds and waves.

Partly sunny skies are expected on Saturday with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon, the Weather Service reports. Highs will be in the upper 80s with lows in the mid 70s. Southwest winds will be from 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday will bring partly sunny skies with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the upper 80s with lows about 70. Southwest winds will be from 10 to 15 mph.