FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence, Marion, Dillon and Williamsburg counties were put on a tropical storm watch at 11 a.m. Tuesday as Hurricane Dorian started moving north along the Florida coast.
Horry and Georgetown counties are under a hurricane watch.
The Pee Dee is going to get wind and rain as the hurricane passes along the Atlantic Coast this week. How much of each, though, will depend on the exact path the storm takes.
The Pee Dee will get the worst of the storm Wednesday night as the northwest quadrant arrives, and the closest approach of the eye of the storm for the Pee Dee probably will be Thursday afternoon.
Florence is forecast to receive 2.41 inches of rain, Marlboro County 2-3 inches, Marion County 3-4 inches and Williamsburg County 2-4 inches, with the eastern portion of the county in the higher range. Darlington is forecast to receive a little less than two inches of rain.
The Pee Dee has a 40-60 percent chance of experiencing tropical-storm-force winds, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, North Carolina.
"We're going to be at the mercy of it shifting 20-30 miles one way or the other," Steve Pfaff, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said Tuesday morning during a conference call.
"It looks like as it gets up to our part of northeast South Carolina and southeast North Carolina, we could be dealing with a Category 2 storm as it begins to accelerate away," Pfaff said.
"If the storm tracks on the west side of the cone those impacts will be magnified and likewise if it tracks to the east side of the cone the impacts will be of lesser effect for us. Those impacts" being wind and rain.
Peak sustained winds for the Pee Dee are forecast to be 33 mph in Florence, 38 mph from Kingstree to Marion and 29 mph in Bennettsville, according to the briefing.
Peak gusts for Florence are forecast to be 42 mph, 47 mph for Marion, 48 mph for Kingstree and 38 mph for Bennettsville.
"If the track shifts on the west side of the current cone, the values we currently have off shore will be displaced to the west and impact the coast, and the values we currently have along the coast will shift west and impact Florence, Lumberton (North Carolina) and those inland areas," Pfaff said.
In that case, wind and rain amounts would be higher throughout the Pee Dee.
Pfaff said the swamps throughout the Pee Dee have the capacity to absorb the rain without the threat of flooding in the long term.
In the short term, though, communities should brace for flash flooding.
"Drainage will be overwhelmed regardless of drought, and we do anticipate flash flooding," Pfaff said.
He indicated that flash flood watches probably will be posted for the Pee Dee later Tuesday.
"When we look at this, we're seeing the arrival across northeast South Carolina Wednesday night and then for southeast North Carolina looking at later Wednesday night and more so Thursday morning," Pfaff said.
"Unfortunately, we're going to have to deal with this, and we're hoping it's a little further east than the 40 mile closest approach to Cape Fear Thursday.”