York, Chester and Lancaster counties are expected to begin getting pummeled with as much as 13 inches of rain and tropical force winds Friday from Hurricane Florence.
Residents in all three counties should expect to lose power and potentially be without service for days, local and National Weather Service officials said.
Emergency officials are concerned the latest forecast possibility, which calls for up to 13 inches of rain in some areas through Sunday, could include spots inside the storm with even more rain.
Just after noon Friday, Lancaster County was under a a tropical storm warning
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“We are currently experiencing leading edge winds from the hurricane,” said Darren Player, the county’s emergency director. “Please be aware we will also receive runoff from Mecklenburg and Union counties in North Carolina, along with those counties north of them as well.”
All three counties are under a Flash Flood Watch through Tuesday.
“Moderate to major” flooding also is expected in the Catawba Valley and from the Lynches River system on the east side of the county, Player said.
“Storm conditions are forecast to begin to worsen late in the day on Saturday and into Sunday,” he said.
Forecast information Friday morning used the terms “life-threatening” to describe potential flooding.
“There are probably going to be pockets inside the storm, because we are on the north side of the expected eye path, that see even more rain,” Chester County Emergency Management Director Eddie Murphy said. “We are getting information now that uses the term ‘catastrophic rain.’ We are digging in and taking care of people, and preparing for tonight and Saturday when it will get worse.”
Several Chester residents stayed at shelters Thursday night at Lewisville Middle School and Chester Middle School, Murphy said.
One shelter opens in Lancaster County is opening at 2 p.m. Friday.
York County was scheduled to open three shelters at noon Friday.
Police, fire and emergency officials in York County are bracing for northern bands of the storm that bring extremely heavy rain, officials said.
“The eye will be close to us on the south,” Chuck Haynes, York County Emergency Management director, said Friday morning.
High wind and heavy rain late Friday and Saturday is expected, Haynes said, with flooding almost a certainty.
The forecast from the National Weather Service shows bands of 10 to 13 inches of rain possible in Lancaster through Indian Land, and Rock Hill and Fort Mill.
Bands to the west, covering eastern Chester County and central/northern York County including Lake Wylie, show rains of 8 to 10 inches, according to the map.
Western York County and western Chester County are in a band that shows around 6 to 8 inches of rain, the map shows.
Check back for updates.