Hurricane Ian is continuing its steady march toward the U.S., where the powerful storm is expected to hit South Carolina.
As Hurricane Ian gets closer, the forecast for the Columbia area is becoming clearer, with more certainty about the timing and severe weather impacts the storm poses to the Midlands.
Gusty winds are expected on Thursday and Friday, while periods of heavy rain is possible Friday through Saturday, the National Weather Service said in a Tuesday morning briefing. The gusts could exceed 30 mph, and up to 6 inches of rain could fall, the National Weather Service said.
Although rain and powerful winds remain the greatest threats to the Midlands, Ian’s effects could also include possible flash flooding and tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.
The severe weather effects will all be possible from Thursday through Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
There is still some uncertainty about Ian’s track as it is expected to move through the southeastern Gulf of Mexico Wednesday and into southern Georgia late Friday while weakening, according to the National Weather Service.
As of Tuesday morning, no warnings, watches, or advisories were issued by the National Weather Service. That could change as the hurricane moves closer. A hazardous weather outlook was shared by the National Weather Service, which urged urge everyone to remain up to date on the latest forecast information.
The current forecast shows a 70% chance of rain on Friday and Saturday, but the likelihood of more rain decreases Sunday and none is expected for Monday.
“The effects would move on by the end of the weekend as Ian pulls out of the area,” National Weather Service meteorologist Pierce Larkin told The State.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division has notified local and state agencies to be ready to respond if the need arises and said people in potentially vulnerable areas should consider actions they will need to take if the storm threatens the state.
“Much of what South Carolina experiences will depend on where and when Hurricane Ian makes landfall,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said Monday in a news release. “While we are not expecting the full force of a hurricane-strength storm, everyone in South Carolina, from the Upstate to the Midlands, the Pee Dee and the Lowcountry should be prepared to take personal safety precautions if advised to do so by your local emergency managers.”
Ian is the fourth Atlantic hurricane of the season, and the first expected to make landfall in the continental U.S.
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Category 3 hurricane was moving north at 12 mph toward Cuba, and had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 35 miles from the center of Ian, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Ian is battering western Cuba with high winds and life-threatening storm surge,” the National Hurricane Center said.
It’s unlikely Ian will still be at hurricane strength when it reaches the Midlands. But it will be the first named storm to hit the Columbia area since the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred washed through in August 2021, according to Larkin.