Amid concerns about Hurricane Dorian, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an evacuation order for coastal South Carolina — including parts of Horry County — effective Monday at noon.
Horry County schools and state offices will be closed starting Tuesday (they were already closed Monday for Labor Day). The evacuation order affects a part of Horry known as Zone A, which covers areas east of U.S. 17 Business.
"This is a very serious hurricane," McMaster said, noting the sustained winds of the Category 5 storm are 185 miles per hour with gusts up to 220 mph. "With these announcements, we know that we cannot make everybody happy. But we believe that we can keep everyone alive.
Statewide, the governor's evacuation order also impacts parts or all of Jasper, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Georgetown, Colleton and Dorchester counties. Officials estimate the evacuations will affect about 830,000 people statewide.
Medical facilities in the evacuation zones have also been ordered to move patients out of those areas. Although Grand Strand Medical Center is close to Zone A, the hospital does not fall in that evacuation area and will remain open, according to a news release from GSMC.
Lane reversals, the process of forcing all traffic in one direction, have been ordered for some highways in other parts of the state, including I-26 between Charleston and Columbia (starting noon Monday). No reversals for Horry County roads have been ordered at this time.
Forecasters expect Dorian will begin to slowly turn north as it nears the Florida coast. The latest forecast shows the storm staying just off the South Carolina shore Wednesday and into Thursday, although it likely would still be a powerful hurricane at that time and could bring high winds and 6-10 inches of drenching rain.
"It can't be stressed enough that the track could change," said meteorologist John Quagliariello of the National Weather Service. "And any shift to the left would bring the core of Dorian near the coast, along with more significant impacts."