The latest on Hurricane Irma as it moves toward Florida

BREAKING: Gov Deal expands state of emergency, issues mandatory evacuation order

Officials said anywhere from four to six feet of storm surge inundation is expected across the southern SC coast.

McMaster said that shelters will be open and others are available to open if needed. It is expected to strengthen before hitting Florida, forecasters say.

If Irma follows its current track, Midlands residents could face up to 7 inches of rain and wind gusts as strong as 50 miles per hour, experts said.

Officials with Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority say they will turn off water to barrier islands in advance of Hurricane Irma.

Bulletin High School and Battery Creak High School in Beaufort County will open as shelters at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Some lanes on USA 278 and SC 21 may have lane reversals.

McMaster did not give a clear timeframe for when evacuation orders might be lifted, and pledged thorough inspections of state infrastructure following Irma to ensure the safety of citizens.

The Buffalo weather service office said the computer models run by hurricane forecasters indicate Irma will move northwest from Florida, but could still bring some rain to Western New York mid-week.

But experts warned S.C. residents to expect power outages and possible damage to poorly built mobile homes, trees, signs and outbuildings. Hernandez thinks people might be overreacting in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, which sat over that city for days, dumping rain and causing rushing floods.

"Even so", Nicosia added in an email to the media and emergency managers, "there is way too much uncertainty this far out and we need to remain vigilant by being prepared in the event the storm track changes (and it could)".

Major coastal flooding is possible, threatening to cut off many coastal areas, including routes to and from barrier islands.

In its current track, the eye of Irma is set to make landfall over the southern portion of Florida on Sunday night and make its way north, nearing south Georgia by Monday.

The governor also announced that he has ordered evacuations of 143 healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals, in certain counties effective Thursday.

Mandatory evacuations will begin for residents of coastal islands in three S.C. counties - Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper. He said closure decisions will be made by individual school districts.

Richland: Dent Middle School, 2721 Decker Boulevard, in Columbia.

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