Severe weather threat tonight

    A risk for severe weather exists in Columbus and Horry counties tonight, and has already spawned a tornado watch through 8 p.m. for the entire area, a tornado warning south of Horry County earlier, and likely heavy rain and thunderstorms ending about daybreak Thursday, the National Weather Service reported.
    Horry County has moved to Operating Condition Level 4 (OPCON 4), putting the county on “Alert” status, which means that county officials have begun discussions with South Carolina Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, and other coastal communities, a county news release said. The county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is NOT active.
    Citizens should stay tuned to local media for updates. It is also a good time to review family emergency plans, including items that may be needed during power outages such as water, batteries, flashlights, etc. Residents should also survey their property and secure any objects that could become airborne during high winds.
     For more information on wind safety, please visit the National Weather Service at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/wind/.

High Wind Safety Tips
     If you are caught outside during high winds:
•    Take cover next to a building or under a secure shelter.
•    Stand clear of roadways as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
•    Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may come loose during strong winds.
    In the event of a downed power line:
•    Report downed lines to your local utility company and 911.
•    Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches.
•    If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any part of the metal frame of your vehicle.
    If you are driving:
•    Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down.
•    Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path.
•    Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes, as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel.
•    Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as trucks, vans, SUVs, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high wind gusts.
•    If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, safely pull over onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle.

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