High winds expected Thursday in Sumter from Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael intensifies to Category 4 just before Florida Panhandle landfall; Sumter to see effects today


Sumterites and South Carolinians watched Hurricane Michael batter the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as the storm made landfall as a Category 4 and threatened, yet again, the area with tropical storm-force winds.

Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and most of the state should expect maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour throughout today as the speedier successor to September's Hurricane Florence is predicted to make its way into the state this morning and into North Carolina this evening, according to National Hurricane Center models.

As of the agency's 4 p.m. advisory, the last before press time Wednesday, Michael had weakened to a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph as it made its way inland near Panama City and Tallahassee at 16 mph before heading through extreme southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia.

Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties, as well as the entire Midlands, was issued a tropical storm warning Wednesday and remains in it today. Flash flood watches are also in effect until 11 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center is also warning of tornadoes and is predicting wind to be a bigger factor in the area than rain.

Shaw Air Force Base evacuated its F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft Wednesday to avoid potential damage from the storm.

There were about 6,000 people in 80 shelters in five states, including nearly 1,200 still in shelters from Florence, as of Wednesday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

A Red Cross official said it's possible as many as 320,000 people on Florida's Gulf Coast did not evacuate, the AP reported. Michael went from a tropical storm to a projected Category 3 hurricane in about six hours before striking as a Category 4.

Brad Kieserman, vice president of operations and logistics for the American Red Cross, said the storm "intensified extremely quickly and didn't give anyone enough time to do much."

Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order Wednesday extending a state of emergency that was in place from Florence, a crawling hurricane that dumped more than 2 feet of rain in swaths of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. The rivers that Florence flooded have just receded.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Division Commander Neil Baxley said a 15-year-old and two 9-year-olds were playing in the ocean on boogie boards off Hilton Head Island just after noon Wednesday as the waves started to pull them from shore, the AP reported.

Lifeguards were able to rescue them and bring them to safety.

Closures, cancellations affecting Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties


All Central Carolina Technical College campuses are closed Thursday.

USC Sumter is closed Thursday.

All Clarendon School District 2 schools are closed Thursday.

Lee County School District is closed Thursday, including all extracurricular activities, after-school programs and athletic events.

Sumter School District is closed Thursday with plans to re-open Friday unless otherwise announced.

Shepherd Center classes are canceled Thursday.


Clarendon County government offices are closed Thursday. Pending the storm’s impact, normal business hours will resume Friday.

The offices of the City of Sumter, South Carolina and Sumter County government are closed Thursday.

All City of Sumter residential and commercial sanitation services, including garbage, recycling and debris, are postponed. Thursday customer routes will resume a regular schedule next week.

All City of Sumter parks are closed Thursday.

All Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments offices are closed Thursday.


All offices of Tandem Health are closed Thursday.

The 20th Medical Group, including the BX Pharmacy, is closed Thursday.


Shaw Air Force Base is operating on a mission-essential reporting duty status.

The following FSS facilities are closed: Child Development Center, Family Child Care, Youth programs, Rickenbackers, Carolina Skies Club, Afterburner Grill, Tee Top Café, Weasel Wagon, Carolina Lakes Golf Course, Shaw Lanes Bowling Center, Skeet & Trap Range, Woodland Pool, Wateree Rec Area, Outdoor Recreation, Spratt Education Center, Fitness Center, ITT, McElveen Library, MPF & IDs, Arts & Crafts Center, A&FRC.


Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce is closed Thursday and is planning to reopen at 8 a.m. Friday.

Sumter Family YMCA is closed Thursday. Barring any power outages or damage in the area, it will reopen Friday at 8 a.m.

Harvin Clarendon County Library in Manning is closed Thursday. Overdue fees will not be charged for items while the library is closed because of the weather.

South Carolina Department of Transportation has closed all movable bridges to marine traffic.

The Sumter Item’s front office will be closed Thursday. Expect a paper Friday and updates online as they come in.

This list was being updated throughout the day, and there may be more added since press time at www.theitem.com.

If you have a closure or cancellation you can officially release to us that is not on this list, please email pressrelease@theitem.com.