Hurricane Igor is currently a large Category 3 hurricane and is expected to return to Category 4 strength. Although it is forecasted that Hurricane Igor, with 125 mph winds, will remain 850 to 950 miles off the coast of South Carolina, the storm could still do serious damage to our beaches.
The bad news for Folly Beach is that the storm could send large swells toward the coast and cause further erosion to our already battered sand dunes.
As the storm gains strength, local authorities are concerned that it could generate swells large enough to put Folly Beach County Park under water. According to the Weather Channel, the tropical-storm force wind field (up to 290 miles from the center) is now larger than both Ike and Katrina.
The onslaught of tropical storms we’ve experienced this season has caused the dunes on Folly Beach to erode rapidly. If the swells from Hurricane Igor are as strong as expected, the sea water could possibly flow under the Folly Beach County Park buildings and flood the parking lot. The damaged dunes that remain are not high enough to obstruct the water.
The swells from Hurricane Earl caused a similar situation earlier this month. The Washout – a favorite surfing spot on the east end of the island – experienced gigantic waves. The surfers loved it but the high tides ripped through the dunes on the west end of the island, where the Folly Beach County Park is located, and caused extensive beach erosion.
Hurricane Igor caused the surf here in the Lowcountry to rise rapidly yesterday. Waves anywhere from 4 to 8 feet are expected over the weekend as Igor passes southeast of us.
The National Hurricane Center in Charleston, South Carolina warns that swells, rough surf and dangerous rip currents pose a risk to anybody in the water. If conditions warrant, the Folly Beach County Park could be closed to swimmers this weekend. Visitors to the beaches of South Carolina, residents and boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution in and around the water this weekend.
National Hurricane Center in Charleston
Charleston Post and Courier
The Weather Channel