NWS: Metro Charleston could see hurricane-force winds Friday night

The story for the last day or two has been Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ernesto, as the computer models have been taking it over or very close to Charleston sometime during the day on Friday.

The latest forecast track speeds things up by about 12 hours or so and paints a bleaker picture for Charleston. If the track holds — and hurricane forecasts five days out rarely do — Charleston will likely see hurricane force winds as the center of Ernesto passes probably within 20 miles of the coast as it recurves out to sea. This is similar to 2004’s Charley, where Charleston was battered by high winds and heavy rain for several hours as the storm’s center passed to the east.

The Charleston NWS office has released a special weather statement along these lines:

Tropical Storm Ernesto is expected to move northwest across
eastern Cuba today and move towards South Florida on Tuesday.
Based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane
Center… Ernesto is expected to make landfall across South
Florida Wednesday morning as a Hurricane. Ernesto is then forecast
to move north across much of the Florida East Coast Wednesday and
be positioned off Georgia and South Carolina coasts by Thursday
night as a hurricane.

Based on this track… tropical storm force winds… wind speeds of
39 to 73 mph… and heavy rain could occur over portions of South
Carolina and southeast Georgia… particularly the coastal areas…
Thursday into Friday. This includes the Charleston… Savannah and
Beaufort Metro areas. There is a slight possibility that hurricane
force winds… wind speeds in excess of 74 mph… could also impact
portions of the middle South Carolina coast… including the
Charleston Metro area.

Now’s a good time to think about where to evacuate your cars. Hopefully the parking garages will be open well in advance of an event like this. Unless it grows into the second coming of Katrina, I fully intend on riding it out here, monitoring the storm’s effects using my weather station.

Please also note that future posts on Ernesto will be categorized as such for the historical records down the road.