Skies over Columbia should begin clearing Thursday afternoon and evening as the remnants of Tropical Storm Michael move out of the area to make way for more pleasant fall weather this weekend.
“The worst of it will be behind us at this point,” Mike Proud, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, said around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Tropical Storm Michael, which made landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, blew into the Midlands area early Thursday with high winds that set off several tornado warnings and more than 100,000 power outages statewide. Wind gusts exceeded 40 mph in the Irmo and Lexington areas early Thursday.
“The lull we’ve had is the remains of the eye, so these winds are going to pick backup for a little while,” Proud said.
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While the worst of the weather may be over, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office warned that dangers still exist from heavy rain and falling trees.
“There will be some bands of rain possibly heavy at times as the counter clockwise wrap around effect of the low pressure area occurs,” the sheriff’s office said in a release. “Winds are currently calm but will vary during the morning and into the afternoon. This could cause further falling of trees.”
Winds will pick back up through mid-afternoon with sustained winds around 15 to 20 mph and gusts up to 30 mph, Proud said. The winds will continue tapering off into the evening and overnight.
By Friday, skies should be mostly sunny with highs in the mid to upper 70s and lows in the mid 50s, which Proud said should continue through Saturday and Sunday.
A tornado warning issued in Newberry County around 2:45 a.m. was one of four put out by the weather service early Thursday. The sheriff’s office said deputies have checked the area where it was reported, north of Interstate 26 between Newberry and Whitmire, and found no significant damage.
Proud said the National Weather Service will look at areas where tornadoes were reported and determine if they need to send crews out to survey those areas, possibly later Thursday afternoon.