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Hurricane Ian is not expected to make landfall in South Carolina until this afternoon, but flooding has already forced road closures in historic downtown Charleston and winds near the city are blowing at speeds of a hurricane.
It’s the final impact of the storm that has inundated large sections of the Florida peninsula – and Ian is expected to bring power outages and flooding to South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina when it does. will make landfall on Friday afternoon.
A hurricane warning now covers the entire South Carolina coast and part of the North Carolina coast up to Cape Fear, meaning hurricane conditions are expected in that area.
Hours before Ian’s arrival, a weather buoy in the ocean 41 nautical miles southeast of Charleston recorded winds of around 75 mph, with waves as high as 21 feet, the The National Weather Service said. Earlier this week, no wave at the buoy was over 4 feet.
Coastal communities brace again for storm surge Ian
The latest forecast track calls for Ian to make landfall northeast of Charleston, between the port city and Myrtle Beach. A wide swath of the coast could see storm surge waters reach 6 feet above the ground, with over 9 feet possible in some places.
Charleston County, which includes about 100 miles of coastline, declared an emergency and opened shelters for people who want to sit out of the storm in safe spaces and higher ground. But the county had to bus service stop at the shelters on Thursday, when high winds made such trips risky.
Just north along the coast, Georgetown County has urged residents of flood-prone areas to watch for weather warnings – but unlike Charleston, the county said Thursday that he does not plan to open shelters. He also avoided other steps, such as offering sandbags, saying people can buy them in stores.
— Georgetown County, SC (@GtCounty) September 29, 2022
“Wide areas will suffer power and communications outages,” the NWS office in Wilmington, North Carolina said. He expects other impacts to go from broken or uprooted trees, debris blocking roads and bridges and high roads becoming dangerous.
The flood started in the pre-dawn darkness
Much of the Charleston metro area is under a flash flood warning that was issued around 6 a.m. ET. It lasts until noon, then the hurricane will arrive.
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As of early Friday, the closures were mainly on lower streets prone to flooding, the Charleston Police Department said. Road closures are scattered around the city, from the central intersection of Huger and King streets to roads along the waterfront.
“We are only requesting essential travel,” the police department said.
In downtown Charleston, some roads began flooding before dawn as heavy rains from Ian dropped 1 to 2 inches of water on the city, according to the National Weather Service office in Charleston. . Another 2 to 6 inches of rain could fall, he warned.
“As tide levels rise and rainfall intensifies, areas of flash flooding are likely to develop ahead of Hurricane Ian,” the NWS office said.
Flash flooding is expected to affect a number of popular tourist areas, such as Folly Beach to Sullivans Island and Palm Island. Further inland, flooding is likely to affect North Charleston, the office said.
By Thursday evening, the city said, people wanting to protect their cars from flooding had filled the city’s parking lots.