Hurricane Michael strengthens in the gulf to Cat 4; what does that mean for Lexington County?
Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – In the last 24 hours, Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a category 4 storm according to the National Hurricane Tracking Center. Category 4 storms are extremely dangerous, and pack sustained winds well in excess of 100 mph. As of 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, it was taking aim at the Florida Panhandle. Most who are in the business of weather reporting full-time, and especially those who track these types of storm and associated weather events, say that this area of Florida has not looked down the barrel of a storm like this in the past 100 years. Now, what does all this mean for Lexington County, SC.
Christopher Jackson, owner and operator of South Carolina Weather, is a weather enthusiast, photographer, pilot, storm chaser, and one of the most respected names in SC weather. Christopher has already shown a number of possible futures tracks for Michael over the last few days. For the uninitiated in the art of weather watching, those are the little colored lines that look like spaghetti and are the best and brightest weather people’s guesses as to where a storm is headed. They are aided by computers that show paths in the coming days. Christopher’s, and everyone else’s for that matter, shows this storm coming across SC somewhere. As the Midlands and Lexington County are in the middle of the state, in case that never really dawned on you, how far east or west the remainder of the hurricane passes the middle and how strong it still is when it gets here is the important part for us right in our beloved Lexington County. (For those of you who would like to get more familiar with Christopher, you can find his Facebook page which includes links to his LIVE Facebook weather shows by clicking HERE.) No matter where it crosses, it looks big, strong, and scary!
Paul Kirby, the author of this story, owner and editor of The Lexington Ledger, and life-long resident of the state, has spent almost his entire life in this county. He worked through Hurricane Hugo as a county firefighter and saw some amazing destruction. He also was actively out in the rains and wind as the state and county experienced the floods of 2015. He knows how to get wet, windblown, cold, and hot. That’s about the extent of his actual knowledge and expertise on what’s happening with the weather. He does however, have a long memory for events he’s lived through in the past. He is now willing to share the benefit of that memory with you.
This storm is nothing to take for granted. Experts are already predicting heavy rains and high winds for Lexington County that may cause localized flooding, downed trees, and electrical outages. They are saying that some of this could begin as early as tomorrow. The thing with Gulf Coast hurricanes that Kirby remembers the most is tornadoes. Except for when SC takes a direct hit from a hurricane like we did with Hugo in 1989, and Joaquin that was a big part of the floods, Lexington County has traditionally had more damage and destruction from hurricanes that came across the Florida Panhandle, sped over Georgia, and spun tornadoes off into us than those big Atlantic monsters. If history is any indicator, that’s what we need to be watching out and preparing for now.
Now for the good news. We just had a dry run with Florence here in our county. All you people should be well versed, well stocked, and ready. We have seen that our emergency services and other county agencies are up to the task. The coordination witnessed between all agencies that serve the citizens of Lexington County we saw when the floods of 2015 hit was phenomenal. From fire trucks and ambulances to motorgraders, we had an army of well-trained employees on the streets 24/7 making sure we were okay.
Tornadoes normally cut swaths that are almost surgical. In comparison to other storms, they are narrow, and they don’t stay on the ground that long. If a tornado leaves a ten-mile path of destruction that's a half-mile wide here, that’s unusual. I know ten miles seems like a long distance if you or your house is in that line of destruction, but things like the 1000-year flood and Hugo wiped out whole counties! If God and Mother Nature decide a tornado is to descend on your head or home, the best you can do is try to survive and pray. Once it’s over and passed, if you’re not looking into the bright light and walking with a gentle band of angels as harps play afterward, dial 911. Our county is equipped, trained, and ready to help.
In summation, we aren’t trying to scare you. We are simply saying as an old commercial used to say, “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.” Don’t be a dummy, be prepared. Here’s a link to a tornado preparedness guide in case you haven’t looked a one in a while or ever (ARC Tornado Guide). Then, sit back and pay attention closely. Keep your eye on the internet, listen to the radio, and watch t.v. if that pesky cable will stay on in a storm. Believe what the government sites say more than your Facebook friend and have a plan for dealing with this just like we did when Florence was headed our way. If it gets nasty, The Lexington Ledger will help to keep you informed about what’s happening right around here where we live.
For fastest news about Lexington County, download The Lexington Ledger app from the Apple Store or Google Play. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We will try and update Instagram with storm pictures after things have calmed down. Hang in there, trust God, and trust the fine people He’s put in our paths to help take good care of us.