CHARLESTON, S.C. – A hurricane watch was posted Saturday for the Southeast coast as Ophelia strengthened into a hurricane once again and meteorologists said its meandering course could take a sharp turn toward land.
A hurricane watch was posted along a 300-mile stretch from the Georgia-South Carolina line to North Carolina’s Cape Lookout, meaning hurricane-force wind of at least 74 mph was possible by this evening, the National Hurricane Center said.
North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency as the storm’s track shifted northward with a forecast landfall on the North Carolina coast next week.
The storm wasn’t close enough to North Carolina that a decision had to be made on whether to order evacuations, said Eddie King, Pender County emergency management director.
South Carolina officials said a decision would be made soon about whether to order evacuations, but Charleston County announced it would open shelters Saturday evening for voluntary evacuees from low-lying areas and barrier islands.
The crew of an Air Force hurricane hunter airplane flying through Ophelia measured top sustained wind of 80 mph. It could strengthen a bit before an expected Tuesday landfall, said Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the hurricane center in Miami.
“Almost every (computer) model indicates a United States landfall,” he said. “It’s time to make those preparations.”
At 8 p.m. EDT Saturday, Ophelia was about 200 miles southeast of Wilmington, N.C., and was drifting toward the northeast, but forecasters predicted little movement for the rest of the weekend.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.