Gov. Henry McMaster advised South Carolinians Tuesday to prepare for Hurricane Ian’s impacts as the storm’s path could take it over the Atlantic Ocean before turning to hit the East Coast.
McMaster did not issue a state of emergency or order any evacuations along the coast as emergency managers monitor the storm, which is set to make hit Florida Wednesday.
He said the state expects to see effects of the storm, but how it will approach the state is still unknown.
“We still don’t know exactly where the storm (is going to hit), when it’s going to get here,” McMaster said Tuesday at the state’s emergency operations center. “We know it’s going to arrive, we know it will have some flooding, we’re know we’re going to have some high water.”
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service said the center of Hurricane Ian was over the Gulf of Mexico and southwest of Florida. The National Hurricane Center brought the forecast track further east, showing the center of the storm moving along the east coast of northern Florida and Georgia Friday as a tropical storm.
John Quagliariello a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, advised people not to focus on the path or intensity of the storm.
If the storm goes over the Atlantic, there’s potential for the storm to maintain or strengthen its intensity depending on the conditions. Those are answers weather officials don’t have yet, he said.
“Whether it stays inland or does move over the ocean, I think for the most part, the impacts are generally going to be the same,” Quagliariello said. “We’re going to see some storm surge inundation along the coast. We’re gonna see some stronger winds. We’re gonna have a heavier rainfall.”
He said the storm could bring isolated tornadoes, heavy rain, flash flooding and a storm surge in South Carolina.
Tropical storm force winds could start Friday and last into Saturday, Quagliariello said.
Nanette Edwards, the executive director of the Office of Regulatory Staff which oversees electric utilities in the state, said utilities are preparing for sporadic power outages, and electricity crews have started positioning themselves around the state.
“Utilities in our state have made arrangements should the need arise for additional personnel if they need to call upon mutual aid,” Edwards said.
Decisions on whether to close schools will depend on what happens with the storm, McMaster said.
“We don’t want to unduly interrupt the schools or businesses and their normal activities, their normal daily activities, but we know that we’re going to have a lot of water, we’re going to have some wind,” McMaster said.
The state has plans in place if an evacuation needs to be ordered, officials said.
“Listen to the official sources. Don’t follow those social media posts, a lot of times they are in error,” McMaster said. “Those plans are ready. They have not been activated and haven’t started blocking roads or closing anything like that. We hope we don’t have to.”