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Hurricane Ian chugging toward South Carolina, dangerous storm surge predicted

Ian regained strength in the Atlantic as it turned toward Carolinas. Hurricane experts warn of dangerous winds, storm surge

SHARE Hurricane Ian chugging toward South Carolina, dangerous storm surge predicted
People walk on the beach at low tide as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt in Sullivan’s Island, S.C.

People walk on the beach at low tide as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Sullivan’s Island, S.C.

Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Ian is a hurricane again and this time it’s chugging toward South Carolina.

Thursday, Ian weakened to a tropical storm — still potentially dangerous — as it crossed the Florida peninsula, hours after wreaking havoc on Florida’s western coast as a Category 4 hurricane. Thursday night, Ian regained hurricane status over the Atlantic Ocean, though it’s much weaker. The National Hurricane Center model predicts a hit on South Carolina Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds approaching 80 mph.

An advisory from the center early Friday said Hurricane Ian could bring “life-threatening storm surge” and hurricane conditions, expected by this afternoon.

A hurricane warning is also in effect for North Carolina, from the Savannah River to Cape Fear. A hurricane watch extends further along the coastline. As of 8 a.m. ET Friday, Ian was moving north at 9 mph, the center said.

The White House has already declared an emergency in South Carolina to allow emergency responders to help out as the storm hits, per The Washington Post.

There are conflicting reports so far on deaths related to Ian —  and the reckoning could continue for some time.

The Post quoted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said there was no confirmed death toll by Thursday night, but he added that officials “absolutely expect to have mortality from this hurricane.” The article said search efforts have included 700 rescues of those trapped by the hurricane in Florida so far.

NBC News, on the other hand, said that “at least 12 people have died in three Florida counties: Charlotte, Sarasota and Volusia.” It noted the death of seven in Charlotte, two in Sarasota, a drowning accident of a Volusia County man trying to drain his pool and two deaths on Sanibel Island, where the causeway was destroyed.

Three deaths have been reported in Cuba from Ian’s landfall there.

Destructive landfall

The Associated Press reported that Ian’s rampage in Florida was “one of the strongest storms ever to hit the U.S. It flooded homes on both the state’s coasts, cut off the only road access to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electricity to 2.67 million Florida homes and businesses — nearly a quarter of utility customers.”

The article said Ian “struck Florida with 150 mph winds that tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S.”

According to The Washington Post, “‘Major to record flooding’ is expected to continue through next week across parts of central Florida, the National Hurricane Center said. DeSantis said the damage in Charlotte and Lee counties on Florida’s southwestern coast was ‘almost indescribable,’ with homes ripped off their foundations.”

Pictures that were posted online by those in the storm show houses buried to their rooflines in some cases, planes picked up like toys and slammed together, uprooted trees and flooded roads, among other images.

As Ian approaches South Carolina, the Charleston County emergency management director told CNN that residents can do a lot to protect themselves. Measures include:

  • Stay home.
  • Keep off the roads.
  • Don’t drive around or through floodwaters.
  • Respect barriers and leave them be.

“Eventually, the storm winds are going to get up so high where our first responders are going to be recalled back to the stations. And we really don’t need to try to have to rescue people that are out and about when these high winds come,” he said.

The National Hurricane Center said once Ian hits the Carolinas, it will weaken quickly into Saturday.