CHARLOTTE — Hurricane Idalia tore into Florida with 125 mph winds, splitting trees in half, ripping roofs off hotels and turning small cars into boats. After coming ashore in the state’s Big Bend region, the storm then swept into Georgia with 90 mph winds, flooding roads and sending some residents running for higher ground.
11 p.m. update
- Storm surge and coastal flooding are expected along the southeastern U.S. coast.
- Tropical-storm-force winds will impact some of the coast.
No deaths were confirmed in Florida, but Florida Highway Patrol reported two people dying in separate weather-related crashes just hours before Idalia made landfall.
The center of Idalia moved through southern Georgia as a weak Category 1 storm after passing to the east of Tallahassee, Florida.
It was downgraded to a tropical storm around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
- Idalia expected to churn up significant storm surge along coast
- Tide level in Charleston Harbor reaches its 5th highest peak
- Charlotte area sees heavy rain, some flooding
There is a storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning in effect along the southeastern U.S. coast. Coastal and inland flooding is expected in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas into Thursday
A tornado watch was issued for coastal counties in the Carolinas until 4 a.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” since no major hurricanes on record have ever passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend.
Along South Carolina’s coast, North Myrtle Beach, Garden City, and Edisto Island all reported ocean water flowing over sand dunes and spilling onto beachfront streets Wednesday evening. In Charleston, storm surge from Idalia topped the seawall that protects the downtown, sending ankle-deep ocean water into the streets and neighborhoods where horse-drawn carriages pass million-dollar homes and the famous open-air market.
Preliminary data showed the Wednesday evening high tide reached just over 9.2 feet, more than 3 feet above normal and the fifth-highest reading in Charleston Harbor since records were first kept in 1899.
At 8 p.m., Idalia was about 60 miles west of Charleston, the National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northeast at 21 mph.
After Idalia moves off the coast, conditions will improve for the weekend.
- Charlotte prepares for flooding, power outages caused by Idalia
- Myrtle Beach prepares for brush with tropical weather
- Tracking Idalia: Outer bands of storm arrive in Charleston
- Wrightsville Beach among the last in Idalia’s path
Local school impacts
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools canceled all sports, practices, student clubs, and extracurricular activities Wednesday due to the weather. After-school activities ended at 6 p.m. as usual.
Cabarrus County Schools also canceled its after school activities.
In Lancaster County, schools moved to remote learning Thursday. After school activities were canceled as well. Schools in Anson and Chesterfield counties followed suit.
Richmond County Schools announced they would close Thursday out of an abundance of caution.
Union County announced that all schools will be operating on a two-hour delay as a safety precaution.
States of Emergency
On Monday, Gov. Cooper declared a State of Emergency to get the state’s emergency operations plan going, help with the transportation of fuel and other essential supplies and services, help first responders, help protect people from price gouging, and help the agriculture industry to prepare for the storm.
“Over the past 24 hours, we’ve seen Hurricane Idalia plow through the Southeast, leaving destruction behind,” Cooper said in a statement Tuesday. “Even though North Carolina isn’t its first stop, this storm’s heavy rains can do damage. I encourage people to listen to local officials and make sure you have a plan if you are in an area with a flood risk.”
By Monday afternoon, Gov. McMaster had followed suit.
“Although South Carolina may avoid the worst of Hurricane Idalia’s impacts, this State of Emergency is issued out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we have the necessary resources in place to respond to flooding events and are able to respond quickly if the forecast worsens,” McMaster said Monday in a statement. “Now is the time for South Carolinians to begin making proper preparations, and everyone should begin actively monitoring official sources for the most up-to-date information – especially those along our coast and in low-lying areas.”
The Charlotte chapter of the American Red Cross is already on the way to Florida to help out with recovery efforts. You can read more about their efforts here.
On Tuesday, the Charlotte Motor Speedway announced it was welcoming Idalia evacuees.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO: TRACKING IDALIA: How will it affect the Carolinas?
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