MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – A tropical storm warning has been issued for the South Carolina coast as Hurricane Idalia strengthens to a Category 4 hurricane early Wednesday morning.
Idalia made landfall near Florida’s Keaton Beach around 7:45 a.m. as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm had fluctuated between a Category 3 and Category 4 hurricane before daybreak Wednesday.
After landfall, forecasters say the storm will make a northeastern turn and then east – moving near the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.
According to the National Weather Service, Idalia will subside to a tropical storm as it moves along the South Carolina coast. At 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, Idalia was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved across land towards Georgia.
In Charleston, impacts from Idalia will gradually increase Wednesday morning and continue through Thursday morning.
A tropical storm warning is active for Charleston, inland Colleton, Berkeley, Georgetown, Dorchester, and Williamsburg counties. A storm surge watch is in place for Charleston and coastal Colleton counties.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the mouth of St. Mary’s River northward to Edisto Beach and Coastal Colleton County.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch at 10:56 a.m. Wednesday for Berkeley County, Charleston County, Colleton County, Dorchester County, Georgetown County, and Williamsburg County. The watch is set to expire at 10 p.m.
The tornado watch was quickly upgraded to a warning at 11:15 a.m. in the Hollywood and Ravenel area.
“If you are in Hollywood or Ravenel, you need to stay inside until 11:45 a.m.,” Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Josh Marthers said.
The Lowcountry is bracing for heavy rain bands, flooding, minor storm surges, and frequent wind gusts.
Rainfall totals are expected to range between 4 and 8 inches in inland South Carolina, and 1 to 3 inches closer to the coast.
Flooding is possible in inland and coastal areas. “We are going to be dealing with pockets of very heavy rain, and that heavy rain will be coming down in a short amount of time,” Marthers said Wednesday morning.
A storm surge watch is in place for Charleston and coastal Colleton counties. Storm Team 2 predicts the Charleston metropolitan area could see water levels of about 2 to 4 feet above the ground in surge-prone areas, primarily along the coastline.
Marthers predicts frequent 35 to 75 mph winds in the area, with the highest winds over the coastal water.
The Storm Prediction Center has outlined an elevated risk of tornados for the eastern half of South Carolina. NWS issued a tornado watch for many Lowcountry counties Wednesday at 10:56 a.m. Marthers says storms that make landfall in the Gulf of Mexico are notorious tornado producers for the Carolinas.
Count on Storm Team 2 to track this storm and bring you the latest on any potential impacts to the Lowcountry. Be sure to download the News 2 app and Storm Team 2 app for important updates.