Tropical Storm Watch Issued for Coastal South Carolina as Elsa Approaches
Tropical Storm Watches were issued early Tuesday morning for a portion of South Carolina's coast in anticipation of Elsa's arrival late Wednesday into Thursday. Considerable flash flooding and isolated tornadoes are risks that will extend from the coast to the Midlands as the storm passes over the state.
Hurricane Watches and Tropical Storm Warnings continued over much of Florida's west coast Tuesday, where Elsa is expected to strike first. The tropical storm is likely to make landfall early Wednesday morning along Florida's Big Bend. Storm Surge Warnings were in effect where water level rises of 3 to 5 feet above normally dry ground were possible.
The first rain bands are likely to arrive in the Lowcountry some time Wednesday morning, but they will be more widespread late Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday night over the Midlands, Lowcountry, Pee Dee, and Grand Strand. The heavy rain bands are expected to continue over the Pee Dee and Grand Strand until about midday Thursday before Elsa moves to the northeast into North Carolina Thursday afternoon.
A Tropical Storm Watch was issued from South Santee River and southward, including Charleston and Hilton Head. The watch means that tropical storm force winds of about 40 mph are possible within the watch area late Wednesday into Wednesday night. If tropical storm force winds occur, they would most likely happen in gusts near the coast. The time of arrival of these winds are near Hilton Head between 4 and 8 PM Wednesday, Charleston between 8 and 11 PM, and the Georgetown and Myrtle Beach areas between 11 PM Wednesday and 3 AM Thursday.
The biggest concern is heavy rainfall: 3 to 5 inches are forecast over the eastern half of the state and isolated amounts up to 8 inches would bring a high potential of flash flooding. Isolated tornadoes are possible, mainly from the Orangeburg and Sumter areas eastward to the coast. Some of these tornadoes are likely to occur Wednesday night when they are difficult to spot.
Elsa is a lopsided storm and most of the weather will occur to the east of the circulation center. That means areas west and north of Columbia into the Upstate will see far fewer effects from the tropical storm.