Tropical-storm warning lifted for county

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Heavy rains possible through Sunday

By Greg Summers

The National Weather Service has lifted the tropical-storm warning for Lancaster County, though a flash flood watch remains in effect with heavy rains from former Hurricane Florence now drenching much of the Piedmont.

Most wind speeds have dropped between 15-25 mph and the storm is almost stationary, though the potential remains for much stronger wind gusts throughout the night.

“It’s really been a slow move since it came to South Carolina,” said John Quagliariello of the National Weather Service in Columbia.

Lancaster County Fire Rescue is reporting that all four lanes of U.S. 521 near Charles Pettus Road in Indian Land are blocked by downed power lines.

"It moved just 25 miles during the 8.5 hours between this morning's 9 a.m. conference this afternoon's 5:30 p.m. call," said Darren Player, director of Lancaster County Fire Rescue/Emergency Management. "It's still moving at 2-3 mph."

Player said the shelter at Buford High School will close at 1 p.m. Sunday when state officials lift mandatory evacuation orders in Georgetown and Horry counties.

State utilities were reporting more than 118,000 power outages at 4 p.m. Saturday, including 6,000 Duke Energy customers. Of the Duke Energy outages, 822 are in Lancaster County. 

The storm is now roughly 40 miles southwest of the city of Florence, slowly creeping westward at 3 mph.

The heaviest bands from the remnants of Hurricane Florence are now spinning over the North Carolina sandhills and headed our way, dumping massive amounts of rain. Swansboro, N.C., has seen more than 30 inches of rain and Conway has seen almost 10 inches of rain.

“What has been predictable and steady is our concern about the heavy rain and the flooding. That is on course for what we have been anticipating all along,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster during a Saturday afternoon briefing with state emergency officials. 

Here, somewhere between 5 and 11 inches of rain are possible in the next 24 hours.

"It's still dangerous with copious amounts of rain and feeder bands continuing to bring in moisture from the Atlantic.... We will continue to feel the increasing intensity of the storm through tonight and into the day tomorrow and even into Monday as it begins its trek northward, finally," Player said.

Forecasters and state officials are closely monitoring the Catawba, Little Pee Dee, Lumber, Lynches, Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, expecting all of them to flood in the next five days.

Flooding is also likely around Lake Wateree next week when it rises to about 104 feet, which is near major flood stage.

Check back later for updates.