MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Subtropical Storm Alberto didn’t make landfall on the Grand Strand, but it quickly dumped several inches of rain on Horry County, causing state health officials to warn swimmers about the quality of ocean water.
Alberto brought heavy rains and flooding to Horry County on Memorial Day.
After Alberto went north, what stayed behind Tuesday was strong waves, the threat of rip currents and, according to the state’s department of health and environmental control, higher levels of bacteria in the ocean water.
“It’s really not good for you to swim in there, but if you want to, swim at your own risk,” said Terrell Turner, who’s on vacation in Myrtle Beach from Louisiana.
DHEC says all Horry County beaches are under a swim advisory until bacteria levels return to normal.
Samples taken Tuesday showed all but three stations had bacteria levels over what’s considered safe for swimming.
“What we’re really talking about is animal waste in most cases,” said city spokesperson Mark Kruea. “When you get such a big rush of water, it carries whatever’s upstream into the ocean very quickly.”
Kruea says it’s rare to have all of Horry County under a swim advisory.
“The last time, I think we had all of South Carolina under an advisory was after Hurricane Floyd,” he said. “We got 15-20 inches of rain in a day, basically.”
Health officials say you can still wade in the water, collect shells or fish, but that you should avoid going underwater or, if you have an open cut, stay on the shore.
Those on vacation say they hope the water improves quickly.
“Hopefully it clears up tomorrow,” Turner said. “We’ll probably be back out here. I hear they’re probably going to have another storm coming through, but hopefully it blows past and we can enjoy the beach.”
DHEC says Alberto’s rain was an unusually widespread event that could take several days to clear.
Daily water samples will be collected until bacteria levels return to normal.