S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the closure of state offices and public schools in 26 counties – including Aiken County – ahead of Hurric…
Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday afternoon with winds of up to 130 miles per hour.
The storm is being watched carefully by millions of people as it approaches the Southeastern coast of the United States.
Although Florence's exact track pattern is still unclear, the storm is currently barreling straight for the Carolinas.
Current track patterns place Wilmington, North Carolina in the center of the hurricane's path. Although North Carolina will receive the most direct hit from Florence, parts of the South Carolina Coast and Virginia will also be affected.
If Florence hits along the South Carolina coast, it will be the deadliest storm the state has experienced in almost 30 years.
The last Category 4 hurricane to hit South Carolina was Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which carved a path of devastation from the coast to Columbia.
NOAA predicts that, by the time Florence reaches the coast, it will be classified as a 'major hurricane', which accounts for all storms with winds of at least 115 miles per hour.
Florence is predicted to make landfall as a deadly Category 4 hurricane, with winds of around 140 miles per hour.
Strong swells have already reached the South Carolina coast ahead of Florence's path, resulting in dangerous currents.
Already people in evacuation zones and the surrounding areas are forming lines in grocery stores, and commodities like bottled gallons of water are selling out in some stores.
Attorney General Alan Wilson announced on Saturday that a price-gouging law has gone into affect in light of these shortages.
"We can expect normal price increases, but we may see businesses and individuals looking to unfairly take advantage of the situation through price gouging of food, gasoline, lodging, and other commodities as defined by the statute," Wilson said in a press release. "By our law, that’s a criminal violation and an unfair trade practice."
Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for South Carolina over the weekend and has urged everyone to update their hurricane preparedness plans and to get ready for possible evacuation.
McMaster held a press conference on Sunday with Emergency Management officials to update the public on the dangers of Florence and what the state is doing to prepare for them.
On Monday afternoon, McMaster declared a mandatory evacuation for eight coastal counties, resulting in nearly 1 million people fleeing the South Carolina coast.
School closures were also issued for multiple counties, including Aiken.
Mandatory evacuations are also underway for Virginia and North Carolina.
Two other cyclones have already formed in the Atlantic behind Florence. Isaac, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as of Tuesday morning, is expected to pass just north of the Venezuelan coast. Hurricane Helene, also a Category 1, is expected to dissipate in the Atlantic without approaching land.
The Aiken Standard will continue to be update as more information is available.