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Hurricane Warnings in effect as Ian approaches the state

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A Hurricane Warning is in effect along the entire South Carolina coast and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect across the Pee Dee, Low Country, and most of the Midlands. These alerts have been issued in anticipation of tropical cyclone Ian nearing the shores of the Palmetto State.

Major Hurricane Ian made landfall as a high-end category 4 hurricane near Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Winds in excess of 155 mph around the core of the storm battered the region and driving rain and feet of storm surge leveled buildings near the landfall location. Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Ian tracked northeastward across the central Florida peninsula, and dumped over a foot of rain in some locations along the I-4 corridor, prompting National Weather Service offices to issue Flash Flood emergencies for towns near the Orlando metro area. During this timeframe, Ian weakened into a tropical storm. On Thursday afternoon, Ian’s center had emerged into the Atlantic Ocean, just off the tip of Cape Canaveral. Heavy rain continued along Florida’s Space and First Coasts, and in those areas, storm surge flooding and tropical storm force wind gusts were expected to continue into the evening.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say that Ian should re-strengthen into a hurricane late Thursday, retaining that strength through the day Friday as the center moves northward. Ian is projected to parallel the coast of Georgia early Friday, before making landfall over the Palmetto State as a category 1 hurricane sometime Friday afternoon. Hurricane force winds are expected along the entire coast, and tropical storm force gusts should extend farther inland.

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In addition, heavy rain, capable of producing flash flooding, is forecasted for the eastern half of the state, especially toward the Pee Dee and Grand Strand, where six to ten-inch accumulations are possible. As far west as the Midlands, four to six inches of rain could fall. Storm surge inundations could range from three to five feet from the Little River Inlet to the South Santee River near Georgetown. From Georgetown to Edisto Beach, four to seven feet of storm surge are possible. South of Edisto Beach, the storm surge forecast is four to six feet.

After landfall on Friday, Ian is projected move northwestward into the Midlands, weakening as it does so. Heavy rain and strong wind gusts will likely impact that region overnight into early Saturday, before Ian lifts into North Carolina and Virginia late Saturday into Sunday.

Governor McMaster has already declared a state of emergency, ahead of Ian's arrival. Residents along the coast are encouraged to heed advice from emergency managers. More information about preparing for Ian can be found at scemd.org.