(NewsNation) — Hurricane Ian was closing in on the coast of South Carolina on Friday morning after cutting across the state of Florida earlier in the week, leaving in its wake destroyed homes, businesses and infrastructure.
Ian was forecast to make landfall somewhere between Charleston and Myrtle Beach sometime Friday, according to NewsNation meterologist Gerard JeBailey. NewsNation is expecting Hurricane Ian to make landfall in the area between noon and 1 p.m. local time. The hurricane was less than 150 miles off the coast Friday morning, with winds of 85 mph according to the National Hurricane Center. It had weakened overnight Wednesday into a tropical storm but regained hurricane strength Thursday afternoon.
The storm made landfall Wednesday in southwest Florida as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S., with storm-force winds extending outward up to 415 miles. Ian drenched much of Florida and created storm surges of up to 12 feet.
Hurricane warnings were lowered to tropical storm warnings Thursday across Florida, with widespread, catastrophic flooding remaining likely, the hurricane center said. Storm surges as high as 7 feet were still forecast along the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts.
“Those places (in South Carolina) that are more susceptible to flooding should certainly be evacuated,” Jebaily said. “Folks should take this seriously.”
Up to a foot of rain was forecast for parts of northeast Florida, coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. As much as 6 inches could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland over the Carolinas, and the hurricane center said landslides were possible in the southern Appalachian mountains.
Storm surge and hurricane warnings were issued along the entire coast of South Carolina, and tropical storm warnings were in effect for portions of the Georgia and North Carolina coasts, according to the National Weather Service. Ian could strengthen further overnight before making landfall Friday, the hurricane center said.