Jacob Kilian, a resident of the Irongate Subdivision in Summerville, removes debris after a large tree fell Friday morning across Comingtree Range | Photo by Herb Frazier

Updated 6:20 a.m. Sept. 30, 2022

Blustery and powerful, Ian is a reincarnated hurricane after it slashed through Florida Wednesday and hit the open water of the Atlantic Ocean Thursday. The storm is expected to smash into the middle of South Carolina’s 187-mile coastline sometime this afternoon.

Via National Hurricane Center | Updated 8:45 a.m. Sept. 30

But all of the huffing and puffing that will blow through the Palmetto State will start long before that as outer bands of the storm wrap the coast in curtains of rain and strong winds of 85 mph, half the strength of what hit Florida Wednesday. As of 5 a.m. Friday, the center of this Category 1 hurricane was 140 miles south-southeast of Charleston.

Here’s the early Friday forecast by the National Weather Service: “

Conditions will steadily deteriorate this morning with the risk for life-threatening storm surge inundation, flooding rains, and tropical storm force winds rapidly increasing as the hurricane approaches the coast. Wind gusts to hurricane force could occur along parts of the lower South Carolina coast, including Charleston Harbor.

The combination of life-threatening storm surge inundation and heavy rainfall could produce areas of considerable urban and flash flooding, mainly across southern South Carolina including downtown Charleston. In addition, dangerous marine and surf conditions will persist with significant beach and lakeshore erosion continuing at the beaches and around Lake Moultrie. Conditions will begin to improve across southeast Georgia this afternoon and this evening across southeast South Carolina as a weakening Ian moves farther inland into North Carolina.”

Charleston’s mayor urges people to stay home

“We are taking the storm seriously,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said Thursday at a press conference. “We need our citizens to be prepared. Tomorrow when the storm is upon us: Stay home. Stay out of harm’s way.”

Tecklenburg said officials were particularly concerned about a surge of water from the storm that could flood streets and harm property.

“The storm surge that is currently predicted between 3 and 5 feet [is] reminiscent of what we saw a few years ago with hurricanes Matthew and Irma,” Tecklenburg said. “It’s likely that that water will come over the low Battery wall where we have not completed the elevation of it, and low lying areas in the city — including the hospital district —  could see inundation tomorrow. 

“The City of Charleston is expecting to see a lot of water tomorrow, and that’s why we’re asking folks to take this seriously. Stay put. Hunker down.”

Streets in Charleston were somewhat empty on Thursday evening. The Charleston Market was empty by 4 p.m. as vendors were told to go home.  Few nearby businesses had sandbags protecting doorways. Almost none had windows protected by boards. 

It was as if people in the city knew a storm was coming and collectively mostly shrugged.

S.C. is under a state of emergency

On Wednesday afternoon, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for South Carolina due to the storm, which was still churning in central Florida south of Daytona Beach.

Ian was downgraded early today to a tropical storm as it slowed over land, caused severe rains and flooding across central Florida as it flooded streets and knocked out power to millions of customers.

“It’s really been a tragic storm so far,” Tecklenburg said. “You might say we are blessed that by the time it gets here it’s weakened. Some folks say it will remain a tropical storm. It’ll be out over the waters of the Atlantic for a little while. So it may strengthen to category one hurricane again.”  

The probable path will take the center of the storm over the Lowcountry on Friday around 2 p.m. It then will scoot across the middle of the state and be in North Carolina by early Saturday.  

There’s a hazardous weather outlook today and tomorrow for the Lowcountry as the area is under a hurricane watch, tropical storm warning, surge storm warning and flood watch. There’s a high surf advisory in effect until Saturday night.  

According to forecasts, impacts from Ian will start being felt today, but Friday will be the day for the harshest conditions. Expect some gusts up to 34 mph today and some rain starting today, according to the National Weather Service.

In other news:

  • Charleston: The City of Charleston customer service line is open 24 hours a day for non-emergencies at 843-724-7311.
  • North Charleston: The North Charleston Sheriff Department’s administration facility at 3841 Leeds Ave. and Matilda Dunston Elementary School at 1825 Remount Rd. in 
  • Shelters: North Charleston will offer temporary shelters. There are over 50 area bus stops providing transportation. More information is available at the Emergency Management Department webpage at charlestoncounty.org

Chelsea Grinstead contributed to this report.

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Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.