CHARLESTON, S.C. — Emergency officials in South Carolina are watching Tropical Storm Elsa, but no evacuations have been ordered during the peak summer tourism season along the state’s beaches.
The Pee Dee could receive 2 to 3 inches of rain.
The governor and local leaders stuck to statements Tuesday instead of the TV briefings that interrupt programming when stronger storms threaten from the Atlantic Ocean.
Elsa is expected to track inland over South Carolina after making landfall on the Gulf of Mexico coast of Florida. But coastal forecasters in South Carolina noted the worst weather was on the east side of the storm and could dump up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain and bring wind gusts up to 55 mph (88 kph) in places like Hilton Head Island, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
The storm is forecast to be a tropical depression by the time it crosses the state, but tropical storm warnings were posted from Charleston County south just in case Elsa doesn't weaken as much as expected.
Elsa would be the third tropical system to impact South Carolina early in the 2021 hurricane season. Tropical Storm Danny hit land near Hilton Head Island on June 28 and Tropical Depression Claudette moved across the northern part of the state June 20 after making landfall in Louisiana.
Gov. Henry McMaster called Tuesday on South Carolina residents to finalize their storm preparations as the initial impacts of the storm could be felt as soon as Wednesday.
A tropical storm watch has been posted for portions of the South Carolina coast ahead of the storm. As of 6:30 p.m. no watches had been posted for the Pee Dee.
Forecasters expect gusty winds, rain, potential for flash flooding, isolated tornados and an estimated storm surge of 1-2 feet, according to a release from the governor's office.
"Tropical Storm gusts possible late Wednesday night through Thursday morning, with a potential for 1 to 3 inches of occasional heavy rainfall with locally heavier amounts possible. Isolated tornadoes possible," according to a National Weather Service weather bulletin posted for the Pee Dee, Grand Strand and Cape Fear area counties.
The 6:30 p.m. forecast track for Elsa calls for it to be a tropical depression by 8 a.m. Thursday when it is forecast to be over the Pee Dee on its way back out into the Atlantic at the North Carolina/Virginia state line.
"The potential for any river flooding is very small for Elsa, and if river flooding occurs, it would be of the minor category," said Richard Neuherz, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, North Carolina.