Area cities declared states of emergency Sunday as heavy rain flooded several major roads throughout Horry and Georgetown County with an anticipated 7 inches of rain, causing roads to close Sunday and schools to close Monday.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Wilmington said the rain was expected to continue through Monday and taper off Monday night.
Myrtle Beach declared a state of civil emergency around 2:15 p.m. Sunday and the city of Georgetown declared a state of emergency around 11 a.m. Sunday.
It’s hitting the fan today.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Pfaff
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Horry County Schools, Georgetown County Schools and Horry-Georgetown Technical College all had announced the schools would be closed Monday as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Horry County Circuit Court also canceled all court hearings for Monday, asking scheduled jurors to report for duty on Tuesday. Coast RTA suspended all service as of 3 p.m. Sunday. Officials said they would make a determination regarding Monday service by midnight.
Heavy rain has flooded U.S. Highway 17 in Georgetown County, causing officials to close the road to traffic into and out of the city.
U.S. 17 is closed from Bourne Street to Winyah Street in both directions, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation.
Myrtle Beach police reportde several road and intersection closures across town, including sections of Ocean Boulevard.
Meteorologists cautioned Grand Strand residents about potentially life-threatening flooding Sunday, saying much of the area is expected to get up to an additional 10 inches of rain through 8 a.m. Monday.
Steve Pfaff, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said the Waccamaw River around Conway is up to a 50 percent chance of reaching major flood levels.
“It’s a very dangerous situation given what we've received and what we're expecting,” he said. “River flooding is going to persist the whole week.”
Pfaff said Horry and Georgetown counties were among those expected to get the most rain and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning Sunday morning that was expected to last until at least 7 p.m. Sunday. Up to 16 inches of rain have fallen in northeastern South Carolina over the past couple of days and the additional rainfall is expected to cause flash flooding.
“Horry [County] is going to be hit very hard,” he said. “It is a phenomenal amount of rain that’s following a phenomenal amount of rain that happened just a few days ago. On Monday there are still issues. There is a predicted 2 to 4 inches of rain on Monday, which will just prolong the issue.
“With high tide coming up between 1 and 1:30 [p.m.], tidal creeks are going to get backed up and you’re going to have flooding along tidal creek areas all across the region,” Pfaff said.
At about 1 p.m., NWS placed Horry County under flood warning “until further notice.”
Meteorologists also called for the potential of an isolated tornado across coastal areas.
“It’s hitting the fan today,” Pfaff said.
NWS meteorologists continue to call this weekend’s rain a “very dangerous weather situation.”
“In the hardest hit locations road failures are possible, shallow rooted trees in a saturated ground may be downed, people may become cut-off or stranded, and sink holes may form,” according to a briefing from NWS meteorologists. “Drainage ditches, retention ponds, streams and rivers will likely come out of their banks.”
A wind advisory also was in effect through Sunday, with the saturated ground combined with gusty winds causing trees to come down in some areas.
“We’re expecting gusts at 35 mph out of the northwest,” Pfaff said. “I anticipate you’ll see more trees down today throughout tonight.”
In addition to U.S. 17 in Georgetown, SCDOT reported 211 state roads and 43 bridges closed due to bridges closed due to flooding as of 11 a.m. Sunday and urges drivers to stay off the roads.
“The average vehicle can be swept away in as a little as 12 inches of moving water and stalled out in as little as two feet of water,”said Acting SCDOT Secretary Christy A. Hall in a statement.
Closures in Horry County, both in the Little River area, include S.C. Highway 57 from S.C. 90 to S.C. 9 the outside southbound lane of U.S. Highway 17 is from Bayshore Drive to Pinehurst Road in the Little River area is closed due to the shoulder being washed out.
SCDOT said residents can call the department’s customer service line at 855-467-2368 to find out about the latest road closures.
S.C Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Sonny Collins urged drivers to stay off the roads.
“The Highway Patrol is continuing to see motorists attempt to travel on the roadways despite warnings,” Collins said in an email. “The integrity of the roadways has been compromised resulting in bridge collapses and roads being washed out. Currently, SCHP is assisting local first responders with rescue operations and continues to be inundated with calls for assistance. Trees and power lines are blocking the roads in many areas. Do NOT attempt to be on the roads – even locally. Stay inside.”
Collins said up-to-date tips can be found online at www.scemd.org.
Myrtle Beach police are closing roads and intersections across Myrtle Beach to keep drivers from stalling their cars and getting struck or swept away.
The following roads and intersections were closed as of 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
▪ Kings Highway from Fourth Avenue North to Sixth Avenue
▪ Farrow Parkway at the exit ramp to S.C. Highway
▪ Harrelson Boulevard at Highway 15
▪ Harrelson Boulevard at Jetport Road
▪ U.S. Highway 501 at Balsam Street
▪ 21st Avenue North at Greens Boulevard
▪ U.S. Highway 501 at Grissom Parkway northbound
▪ Canal Street is closed
▪ Harrelson Boulevard from Coastal Grand Mall to Seaboard Street
▪ Seagate Village is experiencing wide flooding, drivers are encouraged to stay out of the neighborhood
▪ Traffic signal at U.S. Highway 17 Bypass and Mr. Joe White Avenue is not operating
Horry County has resumed to Operating Condition (OPCON) 1 due to potential flooding issues, spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said in a press release. OPCON 1 means a disaster or emergency situation is in effect and poses a significant threat to Horry County.
Due to potential flooding issues throughout the county, a shelter is open at the Christ Lutheran Church, located at 10595 North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, just south of Barefoot Landing.
About 119 customers in the Little River were reported to be without power Sunday morning, with an expectation of restoring electricity by early Sunday afternoon, according to Santee Cooper.
Some residents in North Myrtle Beach voluntarily evacuated their homes on Friday. Horry County opened a shelter for those who left their homes on Friday and on Saturday relocated it to Risen Christ Lutheran Church.
“Citizens are highly encouraged to stay off the roads if at all possible,” Bourcier said in the statement. “The dangers of driving and driving at night poses a higher risk as the hazards become harder to recognize. Please drive with extreme caution.”
The city of Georgetown is essentially closed from the Waccamaw bridges to the Sampit bridge, Georgetown City Fire Chief Joey Tanner said a the statement.
Georgetown County opened three emergency shelters Sunday morning as first responders in the city of Georgetown are reporting up to 4 feet of water. Crews are working to get residents out of their homes and to an emergency center – Beck Recreation Center, 2030 Church St. in Georgetown; Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center, 83 Duncan Road in Pawleys Island; and Andrews Elementary School, 13072 County Line Rd. in Andrews.
Ladder and engine companies were working to respond to calls Sunday morning, with some residents being brought from their homes using boats, according to the release.