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The Latest: Florence downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane

Ocean water breeches to the dunes in Avon, N.C., as the first effects of Hurricane Florence reach Hatteras Island on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

A tropical storm warning was issued at 11 p.m. Thursday for Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.

The National Weather Service issued the warning as Hurricane Florence was hovering off the North Carolina coast. Its future track remains unclear but the storm is expected to impact The T&D Region by Saturday and into Sunday.

A warning is issued 36 hours before tropical storm-force winds are expected. A warning is different from a watch, which means tropical storm conditions are possible but there is a chance they may not occur.

A tropical storm is defined as a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Beyond 74 mph, a tropical storm is a hurricane,

Models of Florence's track vary widely. Some have it going north of Columbia, which would mean less impact for The T&D Region. Others have it coming straight through Orangeburg on Saturday. Still others keep the storm along the coast.

The National Weather Service has also issued a flash flood watch for the region, noting “a high risk exists for prolonged torrential rainfall associated with Hurricane Florence. This may result in life-threatening flash flooding.”

The flash flood watch remains in effect from 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday evening.

Storm rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches may occur across the central and northern Midlands. Totals of 8 to 18 inches may occur across the Pee Dee and Catawba regions.

Localized higher amounts are possible resulting in particularly dangerous flash flooding.

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Lee Harter has been editor of The Times and Democrat since 1981

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