By Mike McCombs
A storm system crossing the nation from as far south as the Gulf of Mexico up to the Ohio River Valley began to display its power Wednesday afternoon, and Beaufort County School District (BCSD) leaders trying to avert a bad situation are dismissing schools early Thursday, March 18 before the system reaches the Lowcountry later in the afternoon.
The BCSD released a statement late Wednesday afternoon.
“As a result of projected inclement weather, elementary schools will be dismissing at 11:45 a.m. and middle and high schools at 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 18,” the release said. “All afterschool activities are canceled.
“District buildings will be cleared and shut down by 1:30 p.m.”
At dawn on Wednesday, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a rare “high risk” level warning for dangerous weather for parts of the Southeast.
The last such “high risk” warning by the SPC came in May 2019 when tornadoes ravaged the Midwest plains region. There hasn’t been such a warning as early as March since 2012.
As of Wednesday night, the storm had already “generated several tornadoes across portions of the South,” according to AccuWeather.
The SPC says that this system has the potential to produce large, long-tracking tornadoes. These would be expected to cause widespread damage and be potentially quite dangerous at night when most people are sleeping. Power outages, flooding and dangerous winds are likely, as well.
As of Wednesday evening, the highest threat, according to AccuWeather, is expected from eastern Mississippi to eastern Tennessee.
However, come Thursday afternoon into Thursday night, the severe weather threat is expected to shift into the Southeast and portions of the Middle Atlantic region. The primary risk in this region will be tornadoes and straight-line, damaging wind gusts.
AccuWeather warns that motorists planning on driving along I-95 in this region may encounter delays due to intense rainfall and locally strong winds.