The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Aiken County and much of the state as potentially severe thunderstorms loom on the horizon. 

Aiken County is under a flash flood watch and a lake wind advisory from 7 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday. According to the National Weather Service, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and damaging winds are possible throughout that time frame. 

In preparation for severe weather, Aiken County Public Schools are having an early release day today. Elementary schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m., middle schools at 1:10 p.m. and high schools at 1:30 p.m.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, tornadoes are also possible throughout much of the state on Thursday.

Current forecasts call for gusting winds over 30 mph and a 100 percent chance of precipitation going into Thursday afternoon. Some parts of Aiken County have already experienced rainfall.

This warning extends throughout the greater Aiken area and most counties in South Carolina.

Much of the eastern U.S. is bracing for severe weather effects as a winter storm sweeps across the country, bringing a series of hazardous conditions from Texas to Maine. 

2:31 p.m.

Georgia and South Carolina counties, including Aiken County, are currently under a tornado warning until 3 p.m. today. Edgefield, Richmond, and Columbia counties are also under a tornado warning advisory.

According to the National Weather Service, a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado is located over Village Plaza Shopping Center, or over Martinez, moving northeast at 60 mph.

Radar technology has detected tornado rotation forming within the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

12:17 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for large swaths of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, including the entirety of Aiken County. The watch stands until 8 p.m.

The National Weather Service's Columbia office warned of hail and strong wind gusts, as well.

10:22 a.m.

A tornado watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for parts of South Carolina, Georgia, including Edgefield and Saluda counties, until 5 p.m. today. Aiken County is not currently included in the watch area.

10 a.m.

Around 700 customer power outages have been reported on Aiken's Southside. Power will be restored by 11:30 a.m. according Dominion Energy's estimates.

This is a developing story. Check back with the Aiken Standard. 

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.