Hurricane Ian continues track towards South Carolina; set to drench NC on Friday

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Saturday, October 1, 2022
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First Alert Overnight Weather Forecast: September 29

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tropical Storm Warnings are now in effect for much of central North Carolina as Ian continues track toward the Tar Heel State.

As of late Thursday evening, Ian is a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to make landfall Friday evening near Charleston, South Carolina, as a hurricane.

The storm continued to move north-northeast movement at 9 mph.

This all comes after the storm devastated Florida, knocking out power to more than 2 million people and reportedly causing multiple deaths.

Timeline

Wind gusts began to pick up in North Carolina on Thursday. Gusts could be around 20 miles per hour throughout Thursday, which means people should go ahead and secure loose items outside.

The rain will not begin until late Thursday or early Friday morning.

Friday will be a complete washout with pretty much all of North Carolina seeing heavy rainfall during an approximately 18-hour window.

In central North Carolina, heavy rain will likely begin before the morning commute and last into the evening hours. However, by late Friday evening the majority of the rain will be over.

Saturday will include some scattered showers, especially in the morning.

What to expect

Most people in central North Carolina can expect to see tropical storm conditions, meaning heavy rain and strong winds.

ABC11 Meteorologist Kweilyn Murphy said central North Carolina can expect anywhere from 3-7 inches of rain from Ian.

Flooding will not be widespread, but localized flooding is possible in areas that see heavy downpours.

There is also an isolated tornado risk -- mainly south and east of the Triangle.

Big Weather's hurricane emergency kit

Wind gusts could get up to 40 miles per hour at times. That is strong enough to lift and move some unsecured items.

Tropical Storm Warnings are also in effect along the North Carolina coast from the South Carolina border up past Morehead City. No storm surge warnings are yet in effect in North Carolina.

North Carolina prepares for Ian

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Wednesday ahead of the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

Cooper is scheduled to give an update on preparations at 3 p.m. ABC11 will broadcast that update live on television and in all of our apps.

North Carolina's price gouging law against overcharging in a state of emergency is also in effect statewide.

Cooper also authorized the activation of about 80 members of the North Carolina National Guard to assist as needed.

Officials at Duke Energy said they've kept their North Carolina crews at home just in case we see widespread outages. They've spent the last couple of days making grid improvements and securing equipment, so if there is an outage, they'll be able to respond quickly.

"We do expect to see outages. Where those are going to be were continue to monitor. But certainly it's a real storm. People should take it seriously until it's out of the area and we can move ahead," said Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy.

Right now, they say they have three major concerns: wind, rain and flooding.

"This is just an all hands on deck kind of storm. It's going to be a historic storm. The damage we're seeing in some areas the entire grid will have to be rebuilt. Those are the kind of conditions they're dealing with there. We're thankful that we're probably not going to see that here. But we could still see a lot of outages," Brooks said.

If you do experience an outage at your home, Duke energy wants you to report it. You can text the word OUT to 57801, use the Duke energy app or call them at 800.769.3766.

Once the storm moves out of the area, Duke Energy will reevaluate and assign crews based on the hardest hit areas.

Meanwhile, home repair experts suggest homeowners take time before Ian arrives to prepare their homes and check their insurance.

WATCH: People living in Triangle flood zones 'nervous' about Ian

Destruction in Florida

Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

The center' said Ian became a tropical storm over land early Thursday and was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters near the Kennedy Space Center later in the day. Flooding rains continued across the state, and a stretch of the Gulf Coast remained inundated by ocean water, pushed ashore by the massive storm.

"Severe and life-threatening storm surge inundation of 8 to 10 feet above ground level along with destructive waves is ongoing along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor," the center said.

In Port Charlotte, along Florida's Gulf Coast, the storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room in a hospital even as fierce winds ripped away part of the roof from its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there.

Water gushed down onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital's sickest patients -- some of whom were on ventilators - to other floors, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Staff members used towels and plastic bins to try to mop up the sodden mess.

The medium-sized hospital spans four floors, but patients were forced into just two because of the damage. Bodine planned to spend the night there in case people injured from the storm arrive needing help.

"As long as our patients do OK and nobody ends up dying or having a bad outcome, that's what matters," Bodine said.

Law enforcement officials in nearby Fort Myers received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or from worried relatives. Pleas were also posted on social media sites, some with video showing debris-covered water sloshing toward homes' eaves.

More than 250 people have been rescued in Orlando as the city experienced "historic flooding" from Hurricane Ian, according to Orlando Chief Charlie Salazar.

A total of 91 people were rescued from the Maxwell apartment complex, and 175 people were rescued from the Dockside apartment complex, said Chief Salazar. The city received 14 inches of water from the storm, according to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

About 25% of Orlando remains without power, said Dyer. Flooding has affected the entire city, with a number of lakes and other bodies of water "out of their boundaries," according to the mayor.

Crews will continue to assess storm damage in Orlando as the city prepares for more rain in the coming days. Search and rescue missions will continue.

WATCH: First Alert to Hurricane Season

Brittany Hailer, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted rescuers about her mother in North Fort Myers, whose home was swamped by 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water.

"We don't know when the water's going to go down. We don't know how they're going to leave, their cars are totaled," Hailer said. "Her only way out is on a boat."

Hurricane Ian turned streets into rivers and blew down trees as it slammed into southwest Florida on Wednesday with 150 mph (241 kph) winds, pushing a wall of storm surge. Ian's strength at landfall was Category 4 and tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane, when measured by wind speed, to ever strike the U.S.

Ian dropped to a tropical storm early Thursday over land, but was expected to intensify again once its center moves over the Atlantic Ocean and menace the South Carolina coast Friday at near-hurricane strength. Storm surges as high as 6 feet (2 meters) were expected on both sides of the peninsula.

At 5 a.m. Thursday, the storm was about 40 miles (70 km) southeast of Orlando and 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Cape Canaveral, carrying maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph) and moving toward the cape at 8 mph (13 kmh), the Miami-based hurricane center said.

Hurricane warnings were lowered to tropical storm warnings across the Florida peninsula, with widespread, catastrophic flooding remaining likely, the hurricane center said.

Tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 415 miles (665 km) from the center, and nearly the entire state was getting drenched, with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of rain forecast for parts of Northeast Florida, coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland over the Carolinas, the center said.

No deaths were reported in the United States from Ian by late Wednesday. But a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.

The U.S. Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue mission for 23 people and managed to find three survivors about two miles (three kilometers) south of the Florida Keys, officials said. Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West, the U.S. Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for possibly 20 remaining migrants.

The storm previously tore into Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country's electrical grid.

The hurricane's eye made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers. As it approached, water drained from Tampa Bay.

More than 2 million Florida homes and businesses were left without electricity, according to the PowerOutage.us site. Nearly every home and business in three counties was without power.

Sheriff Bull Prummell of Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, announced a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. "for life-saving purposes," saying violators may face second-degree misdemeanor charges.

"I am enacting this curfew as a means of protecting the people and property of Charlotte County," Prummell said.

Life-threatening storm surges and hurricane conditions were possible on Thursday and Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, where Ian was expected to move inland, dumping more rain well in from the coast, the hurricane center said.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia all preemptively declared states of emergency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.