Arthur: an unwelcome holiday guest

  • Thursday, July 3, 2014

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News With Tropical Storm Arthur working its way up the coast, walkers and paddleboarders near the First Street beach access on Pawleys Island enjoy the calm before the approaching storm.

Arthur may be an unwelcome guest for the Fourth of July holiday on the South Strand.

The first named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Arthur, was gathering strength off the Florida coast on Tuesday and expected to barrel up the southeastern U.S. coast before arriving in South Carolina on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Charleston issued a tropical storm warning on Tuesday morning, predicting Arthur would bring heavy rain, high winds and dangerous surf conditions.

The tropical storm, with winds possibly up to 70 miles per hour, is expected to produce waves on local beaches of seven to 13 feet on Wednesday, building to 10 to 19 feet on Wednesday night, and 13 to 21 feet on Thursday before dropping down to four to seven feet on Friday, the Fourth of July, according to the National Weather Service. The marine forecast said sea conditions would deteriorate rapidly on Thursday, and treacherous conditions could persist into Friday.

Local public safety officials on Tuesday morning were assessing the potential hazards of Tropical Storm Arthur. Ryan Fabbri, assistant administrator for the Town of Pawleys Island, said he would be meeting with Mayor William Otis Jr. and Police Chief Mike Fanning Tuesday afternoon to “assess the projected path” of Arthur. But it was not expected that the storm would change the town’s plans for the 48th Annual Fourth of July Parade, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Georgetown County Emergency Management Division Coordinator Cindy Grace said Tuesday morning that the county is working closely with the state Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service via conference calls to assess the storm’s potential. “At this point, we are just monitoring the situation,” she said.

Tropical Storm Arthur is the first named storm of the hurricane season in South Carolina, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. According to the National Oceanic and Administration, there have been 12 tropical storms in southeast South Carolina since 1900, as well as 16 Category 1 through Category 4 hurricanes, including the devastating Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

On Tuesday, the surf at the First Street beach access on Pawleys Island was rough enough to discourage some early morning paddle boarders. “I didn’t know that there was a tropical disturbance out there,” said paddle boarder Zade Gundling of Pawleys Island. “But it makes sense, though. The water is usually like glass at this time, and today it was a little choppy.”

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