Hurricane Florence evacuations canceled in 3 South Carolina counties, I-26 lanes reversed
Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted evacuation orders for three coastal South Carolina counties, as forecast models for Hurricane Florence continue to show potentially lesser impacts on the southern portion of the state.
McMaster announced Tuesday that residents of Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties were no longer subject to an evacuation order the governor issued Monday for portions of 26 coastal and near-coast counties.
The only exception to the lift of the evacuation order is Edisto Beach in Colleton County, which is subject to a storm surge and hurricane watch issued Tuesday morning by the National Hurricane Center.
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Evacuation orders continue for 23 South Carolina counties, including Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry immediately along the coast. A reversal of the eastbound lanes on Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia began Tuesday morning to accommodate additional traffic evacuating the Lowcountry.
Gov. McMaster also ordered schools to reopen in Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton, and Jasper counties.
Colleton County School District officials say schools will remain closed through the rest of the week despite the governor's order. Beaufort County school officials say they will remain closed Wednesday, as well, but Thursday and Friday are to be determined.
Florence remains a category 4 hurricane with 130 mph sustained winds, located about 1,000 miles east-southeast of Charleston. It is expected to make landfall along the South and North Carolina coasts Thursday,
Latest forecasts place the greatest likelihood on the storm's worst impacts to be concentrated around the Pamlico Sound region of North Carolina north of Wilmington. The exact track of the storm, however, is impossible to predict, and South Carolina could still see significant impacts.
In a 2 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said Florence is growing in size and becoming better organized. It is expected to make landfall as a major hurricane with life-threatening impacts.