Aiken County under Tropical Storm Watch as Hurricane Michael upgraded to a Category 3
Hurricane Michael has grown in strength to a Category 3 hurricane as of NOAA’s update at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
Michael now has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.
The storm’s predicted track pattern has changed little from Monday. Michael is expected to make landfall along the Florida panhandle Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane before moving across parts of Georgia and South Carolina.
Wukallah, Franklin and Gulf counties in Florida have issued mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents.
Michael will reach Aiken County on Thursday and is expected to pass over South Carolina as a tropical storm.
Aiken County Director of Emergency Management Paul Matthews said the department is at OPCON-4, which means they have notified their emergency response partners and will continue to monitor the storm.
“It looks like on the current track – and of course that could always change – that the storm will pass right over the top of Aiken,” Matthews said.
According to Matthews, this is good news because the storm’s stronger winds will be gusting down near the coast and in the far southern part of the CSRA.
Following a county conference call with Aiken officials, Emergency Management held a webinar with the National Weather Service in Columbia.
As of Tuesday night, the National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Aiken County. The NWS predicts that Aiken will see sustained winds of around 12-25 miles per hour, gusting up to 35 miles per hour. Rain and thunderstorms are likely From Wednesday morning to Thursday night.
The N WS has issued a flash flood watch for Aiken County from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening.
Matthews said more meetings will be held Wednesday, and the NWS will have better information on the storm at that time.
Other organizations across South Carolina are also preparing for hazardous weather from Hurricane Michael.
The Palmetto S.C. Region of the American Red Cross stated it is “actively preparing for whatever Hurricane Michael brings to South Carolina” in a press release.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control is once again urging dam and reservoir owners and operators statewide to lower water levels in preparation for rain from Hurricane Michael, especially since soil in some areas may still be saturated from floodwaters due to Hurricane Florence in September.
For questions about appropriate water levels, call DHEC Dam Safety Program staff at 803-898-1939.