State emergency officials increased the state’s danger readiness level Sunday ahead of a possible hit by Hurricane Florence.
The S.C. Emergency Management Division said just before 8:30 a.m. that it now is operating at Operation Condition 3, which means that agencies are preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster emergency situation as officials monitor the forecasts of Florence, which strengthened into a hurricane Sunday.
The Emergency Management Division has a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being a normal day and 1 being an ongoing disaster.
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Gov. Henry McMaster on Saturday declared a state emergency ahead of a possible hit from the storm, which by Sunday had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was a Category 1 hurricane.
The latest projection for the path of the storm, released Sunday, shows the storm centered on Wilmington, N.C., with NOAA predicting it will be a “dangerous major hurricane” by the time it reaches the coast later in the week.
The National Weather Service in Columbia emphasized earlier Sunday that the impacts of a hurricane can extend more than 100 miles from the storm’s center. There were no coastal watches or warnings in effect as of Sunday morning.
An official statement from the National Hurricane Center from Sunday reads: “Florence is moving toward the west near 6 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue today. A west-northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected by Monday, and that motion is forecast to continue through mid-week.
“On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday. Aircraft data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph with higher gusts. Florence is forecast to rapidly strengthen to a major hurricane by Monday, and is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.”