Tropical-storm warning issued for county

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By Mark Manicone

The National Weather Service in Columbia has placed Lancaster County under a tropical-storm warning due to the projected path of Hurricane Michael.

The warning was issued at 11:04 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10.

The latest weather forecasts indicate that much of the county will pelted with an estimated 4 to 6 inches of rain through Friday morning, with 6 to 8 inches possible in the eastern-most portion of the county near the Chesterfield County line.

Tropical-force winds ranging from 39-52 mph are also expected with higher-speed wind gusts possible.

At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Hurricane Michael was 50 miles south of Panama City, Fla., tracking north-northwest at 14 mph.

The storm has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph, and is currently battering the Florida Panhandle.

Michael is expected to make landfall this afternoon in the vicinity of Panama City.

Forecasters say the powerful storm will start impacting South Carolina this evening, and will move through the state Wednesday night and all day Thursday, weakening into a tropical storm. Strong wind gusts are expected to enter the county about 9 a.m. Thursday.

The border for Category 1-force winds (up to 73 mph) includes Kershaw County and extends almost to Lancaster County’s southern boundary. Hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles for the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend 175 miles from the center.

Emergency Management Director Darren Player said that a small shift in the storms path could put the county in that higher wind field.

As of noon Wednesday, the emergency operations center has been placed at OPCON 4.

Lancaster County School District will make a decision on whether or not to cancel school by 6 p.m. Wednesday, said district Safety Director Bryan Vaughn.

Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said that the county hasn’t made a formal decision on closing its offices, but anticipates that they will be closed Thursday.

“Unless the forecast really lightens up some, we’re proabably going to be closed tomorrow,” he said Wednesday.

There will also be a safety briefing at the Lancaster County Emergency Operations Center at 3 p.m.

This is a developing story, so check back with Carolina Gateway for updates.

Follow reporter Mark Manicone on Twitter @mark_manicone or contact him at (803) 283-1152.