NOTE: Information about impacts and timing for Hurricane Ian have been updated. Please click here to see the latest details as this story is no longer being updated.
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Ian strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane early Monday morning, but forecasters with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) say the storm will rapidly intensify as it heads towards Cuba this week and the western Florida coast. The storm will likely lose some strength as it approaches Florida later in the week.
Ian will not be a direct hit for our coast like if the storm was coming in from the Atlantic. The storm will come out of the Gulf of Mexico and will have plenty of land interaction before it gets to South Carolina.
Here at home, forecasters say our greatest risks will be rainfall and wind. Rounds of moderate to heavy rainfall are possible Thursday through Friday, which could result in flooding, especially in low-lying and poor draining areas, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Charleston.
The risk for coastal flooding will increase with high tides beginning on Wednesday. High surf, dangerous rip currents, and beach erosion are possible. Gusty winds, possibly to tropical storm force, may begin to develop Wednesday night through Friday, NWS forecasters said. Winds will likely be highest over the coastal waters and along the immediate coast.
Storm Team 2 is tracking two scenarios for the mid-to-late-week timeframe when it comes to impacts from Hurricane Ian.
Scenario one would be a closer approach – Hurricane Ian makes landfall around Florida’s big bend. It would pass through or near our area as a tropical storm later in the week. That would give us heavy rain, flooding, gusty winds, and an increased risk of tornadoes.
“That is typical for landfalling tropical systems in the Gulf,” said Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Josh Marthers. “Those are the three things (rain, wind, tornadoes) we typically get out of these types of storms from that area.”
Scenario two is a little further to the west, which would mean a lower impact for us. But we would still see some heavy rain and a gusty breeze.
“The rain amounts would be less, we would have less flooding and lower wind speeds,” said Marthers.
But Storm Team 2 said the likely scenario right now, based on the latest guidance from the National Hurricane Center, is for scenario one to play out for us late in the week; however, we cannot yet take scenario two off the table.
Timing for impacts from Ian would be Thursday into Friday with showers lingering into the weekend.
Regardless of any impacts we see from Ian, it’s a good reminder we are in peak hurricane season. Now is a good time to review your family’s hurricane plan and download the Storm Team 2 Hurricane Ready Guide for tips and important information you may need. You can also download the News 2 and Storm Team 2 apps for the latest weather and breaking news alerts.