When Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, it was a Category 4 hurricane.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Although Michael had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane by 8 p.m., it was still powerful, with the NHC reporting it had sustained winds of 90 mph as it moved into Georgia, and was about 250 miles southwest of Columbia.
What does Hurricane Michael have in store for the Carolinas?
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
As it moves to the northeast, the storm’s winds will continue to lose strength, according to the National Weather Service. But they are still forecast to be dangerous by the time they hit South Carolina, beginning early Thursday morning, and later in the day when they reach North Carolina.
Michael is predicted to be a tropical storm by the time it reaches the South Carolina border with Georgia, according to the National Weather Service. It will remain at that status as it moves through Columbia and the Midlands, and toward the Pee Dee region and the North Carolina state line.
A prediction of peak gusts in S.C. shows 45 mph winds impacting Aiken, only slightly weakening to 40 mph when they reach Columbia, according to the NWS.
Myrtle Beach, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence, is predicted to experience 46 mph winds — the most powerful gusts in the Palmetto State.
Hilton Head, Charleston and other coastal areas in the Lowcountry aren’t expected to see winds more powerful than 40 mph, the NWS reported.
Wind gusts are predicted to be considerably more powerful in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Maximum sustained winds are forecast to be in the range of 40 to low 50 mph range, according to the NWS. But wind gusts along coastal N.C. are predicted consistently in the 50-plus mph, including 66 mph gusts in Rodanthe.
Wilmington, N.C., which suffered so much damage when Florence made landfall, is forecast to experience 29 mph sustained winds, and gusts of 41 mph, the NWS reported.
That is still a steep drop from a wind gust of 119 mph that was reported at Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City, Florida, according to the NHC.
The powerful wind gusts are expected to cause downed trees and powerlines, raising the possibility of extended power outages.
With the increased winds, there is also the threat of tornadoes in both Carolinas. In S.C. there is potential for a few tornadoes in the Midlands, where Columbia is located, and several tornadoes slightly south and also to the east, according to the NWS, which reported that isolated tornadoes are possible in N.C.