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Tropical Storm Watches issued along South Carolina coast ahead late week arrival of Ian

Justin Ballard
National Hurricane Center
Ian will impact South Carolina with tropical storm conditions and storm surge possible this weekend.

Hurricane Ian is expected to bring storm surge and the risk of flooding to the Palmetto State, prompting the issuance of tropical storm watches across the Lowcountry.

The 11 AM advisory issued Tuesday from the National Hurricane Center positions Ian along the Savannah River as a tropical storm Saturday morning. Winds of between 39 and 73 miles per hour will be possible, especially across the southern Midlands and Lowcountry. Tropical storm watches have been issued for areas mainly along and east of I-95. By Sunday morning, remnants of Ian are expected to shift into the Upstate of South Carolina, with improving conditions expected through the latter half of Sunday across the state.

Forecast guidance since Monday evening has gradually shifted east and that could bring more significant impacts to the South Carolina coastline from storm surge. As of late Tuesday morning, storm surge watches are in effect from near Georgetown to the mouth of the Savannah River. The latest forecast depicts storm surge of 3 to 5 feet possible in this area, especially where coastal topography lends itself to exacerbating storm surge. The National Weather Service in Charleston encourages residents of coastal communities to evacuate if told to do so, as emergency services could be cut off due to storm surge Friday into Saturday.

The risk for storm surge will coincide with the risk for flash flooding, especially across the Lowcountry and Midlands where rainfall could be more than a half foot. The Weather Prediction Center's forecast through the weekend depict a moderate risk of flash flooding Saturday, with that threat shifting mainly north of South Carolina by Sunday.

As Ian tracks through South Carolina, there will also be a risk for a few tornadoes. The highest chance for this will be along and east of where Ian tracks, placing locations like Charleston and Columbia in the path most likely to be impacted by quick tropical spin-ups. Tornadoes associated with tropical cyclones tend to develop with very little advanced notice, so residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date on any tornado watches that may be issued for their locations.

While a direct landfall along the South Carolina coast may not occur, the impacts of a nearby track from Ian will provide direct impacts to the state through the weekend. Please heed advice from local officials regarding evacuation orders.