12 AM Saturday update
Winds are close to 40 miles per hour in gusts at Myrtle at midnight and should peak near 50-55 predawn. The more compelling piece of data is that the winds at Wlimington NC have backed to the north suggesting Irene will come close to a landfall at Cape Hatteras in the early afternoon Saturday.
Pressures are rising at Savannah Ga. and Charleston SC as Irene has now passed to the east of those coastal cities by a few hundred miles. By sunrise, Irene will be east of the Grand Strand by 150 miles, setting the stage for the heaviest rains to shift away to the north into eastern North Carolina.
I would expect a very windy morning at Myrtle with leftover showers giving way to an afternoon of drying with the sun breaking through the clouds.
Overnight winds will be 35-55 miles per hour and those values will hold on thru noon. By afternoon, the winds will still be formidable in the 25-45 mile per hour range.
What it all means is Mrytle has taken a glancing blow and the Grand Strand is open for business all weekend long. Scattered power outs and ocean flooding have occured.
COMMENTS FROM MYRTLE AND THE STORM
As your comment come in, I am posting them and giving some perspective where applicable.
Erin Cremeans Tassen commented on your status.
Erin wrote: "We are still here at Land's End Resort. Only have partial power as of now. Lots of wind and rain!!"
Rick Martin commented on your status.
Rick wrote: "TONY, PARTS OF GARDEN CITY FLOODED, HIGH TIDE AND THE MOON."
Tony adds...this is tidal flooding from the pile up of water from the ocean. With the north wind blowing from land to sea, the storm surge that will swamp Eastern NC will not occur along the Strand.
Rick also wrote: "TONY HERE A LIVE CAM FROM OUR BOARDWALK. ALSO The chance of tornadoes is increasing just to our north across portions of Southeastern NC. No tornado threat for the Grand Strand.
The north wind I mentioned below PREVENTS TORNADO development across the Strand. Again where the winds blow from the east and southeast up the coast, that's where twisters can form.
8 PM Friday Update
Let's start tonight's Myrtle briefing with a look at the Myrtle Beach weathercam.
Most of the afternoon, squally rains have been straffing across the famous Grand Strand penetrating only a few miles inland. That's important since Irene's effects are mainly going to be a coastal phenom with areas 10-20 miles inland getting away very much scott free.
So far rain has not backed to I-95 in South Carolina and is not likely to impact areas much farther west than say Conway.
The forecast for Myrtle and the 60 miles of the Grand Strand remains the same. More wind and rain toward the NC-SC border, less south to Georgetown.
Greg Crewa from the Mayor's office at Myrtle told me this afternoon that while the beaches were open, swimming in the rough surf was not being permitted by lifeguards. He expects that ban to be lifted on Sunday if not Saturday afternoon. (Editor's footnote: Why would lifeguards be out? To protect those daring/foolish enough to test such rough waters).
Winds have been clocked to 40 miles per hour this evening at the Myrtle airport (right on the beach) and will remain at Tropical Storm force overnight into Saturday morning. That means winds of 35-55 miles per hour will linger for another 6-10ours especially on the north end of the Strand.
The heaviest rains will be moving away by dawn with lingering morning showers ending by noon in South Carolina. The sun will appear in the afternoon as things begin to dry out.
Sunday looks grand at the Strand with hot sunshine and an off shore breeze as highs head for 90.
2 AM Friday Update
I have just sent my friends in Philly and South Jersey a late night update on Irene. An historic event seems likely there.
For Myrtle Beach goers, I am standing pat on my forecast. I will adjust the top winds to 60 miles per hour for Calabash and Little River, scaling back to 50 miles for most of the Grand Strand.
Far Northeastern Horry and eastern Brunswick Counties are likely to see some power outs but most areas south and west of North Myrtle Beach city should not go dark.
Likewise, inland golf courses like Myrtle Beach National and the Legends are less susceptible to wind damage compared to the courses around Calabash (Heather Glen, Carolina Shores and Oyster Bay).
If you have reservations to check in Saturday, call ahead, but right now I sense you will be able to get into Myrtle Beach rather easily in the late afternoon-evening. Best to come in on Rt.41 and 501 from Conway. Avoid taking route 17 out of Brunswick County NC.
As for flooding, there will be nuisance coastal flooding due to the pounding surf, but with the wind blowing from land to sea most of the time, serious sea water flooding is not likely.
Then there is the issue of fresh water flooding from rain. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect. Again, I expect less rain in Horry County as compared to Brunswick County.
I will update the Grand Strand forecast all day long on Friday and Saturday, so check back. I will also try to answer e-mails as time permits.
In my original posting, I have documented your weather forecast for the weekend at Myrtle. I see no compelling reason to alter that as of 2 AM Friday.
Strand to Get Glancing Irene Blow