Snapshot: Many people consider the stretch of coast from northeast Florida through southern South Carolina as a "protected coast," immune to coastal hazards. Hurricane Matthew now threatens to slam this coastline with a storm surge more severe than anywhere else the storm has impacted. The Protected Coast is now the most dangerous place of all, asMore
Update 5:00 p.m. ET: As of 5 p.m. Eastern time, the hurricane warning has been discontinued from South Santee River, S.C., southward. Heavy rains are falling in the Carolinas, with Fayetteville, N.C., reporting more than 11 inches since midnight. The National Weather Service in Raleigh has called the rain and subsequent flooding in Wake, Johnston and Wayne counties a “life-threatening” weather condition.
A weakened Hurricane Matthew continued to the batter the coasts of South and North Carolina Saturday morning, pushing considerable storm surge ashore and dropping heavy rains inland.
The storm made landfall southeast of McClellanville, S.C., Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. Officials warn that the storm is still dangerous and are urging those in affected areas to stay inside to avoid flood waters, downed power lines and other debris.
“At this point, I would ask that you plan on continuing to hunker down today and tomorrow,” South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said, according to The Post and Courier.
Matthew is now a Category 1 hurricane with maximum winds of 75 mph and higher gusts. It is expected to continue following the coastline for the next 24 hours before turning out to sea and then making a southward turn, potentially impacting the Bahamas again next week as a tropical depression.
Officials and residents in Florida were taking stock of the damage Matthew left in its wake, with many downed trees on homes and across roadways, continued power outages and other damage to homes, hotels and businesses.
While the city of Jacksonville is lifting its evacuation order at noon, officials are urging residents to remain inside while the work of clearing debris and downed power lines continues.
The storm surge was considerable in St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach, where a video that spread on social media showed the surge washing over the beach and into the streets.
#Matthew surge is really taking it to Jacksonville. Crazy video https://t.co/uwnB5xu5Mf pic.twitter.com/nTNbnAFaCs
— Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) October 7, 2016
That surge threat has moved northward with the storm. City streets in Savannah and Charleston flooded overnight and were continuing to flood in Charleston as it bore the brunt of the storm Saturday morning. Surge is forecast to reach 5 to 7 feet from Charleston to Cape Fear, N.C., and 2 to 4 feet from there to Duck, N.C.
Wind gusts at Tybee Island, a barrier island off the coast of Savannah, reportedly reached 96 mph overnight. The tide gauge at nearby Fort Pulaski reached more than 12.5 feet, besting the previous record set during Hurricane David in 1979. Water levels in Charleston Harbor reached more than 9.5 feet at high tide early Saturday morning, the third highest level on record.
Haley reported more than 400,000 customers without power in the state.
Hurricane #Matthew battering the South Carolina coast with potential landfall near & north of #Charleston. #scwx pic.twitter.com/OG1dwjJnRr
— UW-Madison CIMSS (@UWCIMSS) October 8, 2016
As Matthew continues moving up the coastline, the threat will transition to the heavy rains falling inland in North Carolina. The ground in the eastern Carolinas is already saturated due to recent rains, raising the threat of freshwater flooding with the 8 to 12 inches that could fall in the region.
Rains can also exacerbate the storm surge threat.
“Storm surge prevents rainfall from running off. This combined threat can back water up many miles inland, especially close to rivers and canals,” storm surge expert Hal Needham said in an email.