Tropical Storm Michael swept across the Charleston area Thursday morning, its high-speed winds toppling trees and downing power lines as the system quickly marched northeastward.
Wind gusts between 50 and 60 mph across parts of Berkeley and Charleston counties were the main cause for concern across the region.
The Charleston County Sheriff's Office said that wind speeds up to 40 mph were reported on the Isle of Palms connector and advised against driving high-profile vehicles, such as large cargo trucks and buses, on the span.
Ahead of Michael's arrival, county government offices in the Lowcountry, including those in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, closed offices and suspended normal operations Thursday. Each of the counties are expected to reopen Friday. School districts across the region followed suit.
As stormy conditions Thursday morning began to dissipate, maintenance crews were almost immediately tending to blown transformers and toppled utility poles. By 4 p.m., there were still 1,439 power outages reported across the tri-county area, according to S.C. Electric & Gas.
The heavy wind and power outages across the area also contributed to multiple traffic light malfunctions near busy roads such as U.S. Highway 17 at Stocker Drive, Charleston police said.
At the Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, operations were not impacted by the passing of Tropical Storm Michael, officials said, barring several cancellations and delays determined by airlines.
Meanwhile, in downtown Charleston, large waves crashed over the seawall at the Battery, spraying some onlookers who had ventured out with their cellphones.
Dead palm fronds and leaves danced on the sidewalk. A woman cleaned shattered glass from the middle of Water Street.
David Grant walked with one hand on his head to keep the wind from stealing his baseball cap. His wife, Michelle, clad in a yellow rain jacket, captured a photo of the waves and planned to send it to family in Pennsylvania. The Charleston couple braced themselves against the wind.
“I slept in rollers last night, now look at my hair,” Michelle Grant said with a laugh.
In Dorchester County, authorities said Thursday morning that there had been reports of numerous downed trees and power lines. At least one set of power lines was down and blocking the Twin Lake Drive and Weir Road intersection near Summerville around the time of the morning rush-hour commute.
On Central Avenue near Parsons Road, a busted transformer blew sparks in the predawn darkness.
We have reports of malfunctioning traffic signals at:Old Trolley Rd. at Miles Jamison Rd.Travelers Blvd at Old Trolley Rd. Main St. at Carolina Ave (Five Points) in Summerville pic.twitter.com/cjSCERzy66— Dorchester County (@DorchesterSCGov) October 11, 2018
Meanwhile, streets that saw steady but lighter than usual traffic during rush hour were blanketed in leaves and pine needles. Small branches littered yards and roads. Some who put out their trashcans despite collection being suspended for the day woke up to their cans tipped over and their contents scattering in the wind.
With Michael moving along at a steady clip, the conditions improved significantly by early Thursday afternoon as clouds opened up, revealing blue skies and sunshine.
Angie Jackson and Allison Nugent-Caruso contributed to this report.