Hurricane Michael to plow through the Midlands: Here’s what to expect
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Several S.C. school districts, including Richland One, have announced plans to dismiss early or close as state officials ready for Hurricane Michael.
Richland One School District will close all schools and offices on Thursday. All after-school activities and programs, including child care programs, also have been canceled.
Schools in the consolidated Orangeburg Districts of 3, 4 and 5 will dismiss early on Wednesday and close on Thursday in anticipation of potential severe weather headed toward the Palmetto State.
The Calhoun County School District says it also will dismiss students early on Wednesday and close Thursday.
Out of caution, all Newberry County schools and administrative offices will be closed on Thursday.
Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia is closing at noon Wednesday and will be closed Thursday.
The Calhoun County School District will dismiss students early on Wednesday and close Thursday.
In Barnwell County, School District 45 announced a 12:45 p.m. dismissal Wednesday for primary and elementary schools while middle and high schools will dismiss at 1:15 p.m. All Barnwell 45 schools will be closed Thursday.
Williston School District 29 will dismiss the elementary school at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and the middle and high schools at 12:45 p.m. All Williston schools will be closed Thursday.
The now-Category 4 hurricane is being monitored closely, S.C. Education Department spokesman Ryan Brown said Tuesday, adding, “Safety is our top priority.”
Before Hurricane Florence hit the state in September, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the evacuations of schools in 26 counties along the coast and in the Midlands. McMaster ordered those closures, in part, to free up resources for emergency responses. Many of the schools were used as shelters for coastal evacuees.
So far, the central portions of South Carolina are expected to get tropical storm-force wind gusts and potentially isolated tornadoes as early as late Wednesday. Wind gusts of 50 mph to 70 mph could be felt in parts of the state, the National Hurricane Center said.
Early Tuesday, Hurricane Michael was about 420 miles south of Panama City, moving at 12 mph with 90 mph wind gusts, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm is expected to carry with it strong winds, and the potential for flash flooding and isolated tornadoes. The highest threat in the Midlands is late Wednesday through Thursday. However, the impact of the tropical storm could be felt as early as midday Wednesday, staying through late Thursday.
Power outages and tree damage could occur.
State emergency and transportation officials are continuing to monitor Michael’s path, they said Monday.
As of Tuesday, 49 S.C. roads and 24 bridges still were closed in the wake of Florence.
With the state still dealing with Florence’s aftermath, the S.C. Department of Transportation said Monday that agency had started to prepare for Michael, making sure enough equipment and personnel are ready should the storm hit the state.
There are currently no concerns the state will run out of resources ahead of the storm, said Derrec Becker, spokesman for the S.C. Emergency Management Division.