FLORENCE, S.C. – Pee Dee counties were put on a tropical storm warning Tuesday evening as Hurricane Dorian started moving north along the Florida coast.
Horry and Georgetown counties were placed under a hurricane warning and a storm surge warning.
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.
The Pee Dee has a 50% to 60% chance of experiencing tropical-storm-force winds, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, North Carolina. It’s a lesser chance to the west and a greater chance to the east.
As of a Tuesday evening briefing on the storm, Florence is forecast to receive 2 to 3 inches of rain. Kingstree and Marion might get 4 to 6 inches. Rainfall projections drop heading west of Interstate 95.
The rain is forecast to start Wednesday and then peak Wednesday night through Thursday.
"We're going to be at the mercy of it shifting 20-30 miles one way or the other," said Steve Pfaff, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.
"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 are wind and rain.
Peak sustained winds for the Pee Dee are forecast to be 34 mph in Florence, 42 mph in Kingstree, 39 mph in Marion and 29 mph in Bennettsville, according to the briefing.
Peak gusts for Florence are forecast to be 47 mph, 53 mph for Marion, 57 mph for Kingstree and 41 mph for Bennettsville.
"If the track shifts on the west side of the current cone, the values we currently have offshore 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.
Wind gusts up to 100 mph are possible for the coast. A storm surge at high tide could mean up to 7 feet of tidal surge above ground.
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.