Tropical Storm Michael rumbled into the Midlands area early Thursday, bringing with it rain and heavy winds that prompted a flurry of tornado warnings and power outages.
Columbia, West Columbia and Lexington remain under a flash flood warning, and the entire state remains under a tropical storm warning.
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The National Weather Service issued several tornado warnings early Thursday, including in Richland, Lexington and Newberry counties. None of those tornadoes have been confirmed, which meteorologist John Quagliarello said is difficult to do during the nighttime hours.
“We’ll have a better idea once daylight comes and people are able to get out and see potential damage,” he told The State early Thursday.
The weather service has received numerous reports of down trees and power lines in the Columbia area, Quagliarello said.
More than 114,000 power outages have been reported statewide as of 8:45 a.m. Thursday, according to the S.C. Emergency Management Division. SCE&G is reporting more than 72,000 outages, with more than 15,000 of them in Richland County.
S.C. Electric Cooperatives are reporting more than 2,800 outages in Lexington County and just over 1,700 outages in Richland County as of 8:45 a.m.
Wind gusts in the Columbia peaked at 41 mph in Irmo, 40 mph in Lexington and 36 mph in downtown Columbia, Quagliarello said.
“It looks like the tornado threat is going to start decreasing here in the next few hours as the outer bands start lifting north of the area,” he said.
Columbia-area residents can expect heavy rain throughout the morning, and tropical storm-force wind gusts capable of bringing down trees will still continue, Quagliarello said. Additional heavy rainfall is possible in the mid-afternoon.
As of around 5:30 a.m., Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport in Columbia had received .57 inches of rain, according to Quagliarello. Closer to the Georgia state line, parts of Aiken County had received 1.5 to 2 inches.
“We should start improving pretty quickly tonight and we’re expecting pretty good conditions around the area tomorrow,” he said.
The storm prompted county offices, school districts and businesses across the state to close Thursday.
The wet conditions and down trees have made a mess on area roadways.
Overflowing creeks flooded some neighborhoods in Lexington County, including Whitehall as well as areas off Piney Woods Road.
- The S.C. Highway Patrol is reporting at least a dozen trees on roadways in Richland and Lexington counties.
- The COMET has suspended all transit services until further notices, the service announced Thursday morning.
- Flooding has closed the exit ramp on Interstate 26 at Exit 106, which is St. Andrews Road.
- Flooding also is reported on Decker Boulevard at O’Neil Court.
Check back for updates.