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Officials urge you to stay inside until storm passes

Updated 9:40 a.m., Sept. 30, 2022

Charleston police and fire officials are urging residents to stay at home and out of inclement weather as the city is thrashed by winds, rain and flooding from Hurricane Ian, which is likely to make landfall on the S.C. coast by midday.  As of 5 a.m., the Category 1 storm was 140 miles south-southeast of Charleston and headed for probable landfall near Georgetown.

“Citizens are advised that during periods of high winds and hazardous conditions, firefighter and police officer response time will be delayed,” a city of Charleston advisory said today.

Wind speeds today could approach 50 mph, city officials said, with gusts up to 80 mph.  Flash floods and road inundation may make driving difficult and should be avoided.

Other updates:

Biden signs FEMA emergency declaration: President Joe Biden signed a declaration this morning that authorizes FEMA to “coordinate all disaster relief efforts to alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population and to provide appropriate assistance” due to the storm in the state’s 46 counties.

Airport closed. Charleston International Airport is closed until 6 a.m. Saturday, according to airport officials.

24-hour Charleston information line. There’s a 24-hour citizen information line for Charleston residents that is now activated. Call 843-724-7311 with any questions or to report damage. For emergencies, please call 911.

County citizen information line.  Charleston County will staff an information phone line all day Friday at 843.746.3900.  Spanish speakers can call 843.746.3909.

Beach impacts.  The U.S. Geological Survey says sandy beaches and dunes along the South Carolina coastline are expected to see significant impacts from Hurricane Ian.  “USGS researchers are forecasting the waves and surge caused by Ian are likely to cause 11% of South Carolina’s and 1% of Georgia’s dunes along sandy beaches to be inundated – meaning continuously covered by ocean water. This is the most severe type of storm effect on coastal beaches, with flooding behind the dunes that may impact coastal communities.”

Power loss.  If you lose power, you are advised by county officials to contact your energy provider:

State of emergency.  Charleston County declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon.  “There is the potential for major flooding tomorrow,” said Charleston County Emergency Management Director Joe Coates said Thursday.

South Carolina is in a state of emergency as Ian heads north

Updated 7:40 a.m., Sept. 29, 2022

Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for South Carolina in preparation for Tropical Storm Ian, which should make its impact with the Palmetto State on Friday.

On Wednesday, Ian was a powerful hurricane that slammed into the southwestern Florida peninsula with 150 mph winds and severe rain that flooded streets and knocked out power to millions of customers.  Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight but remained dangerous early Thursday as it scooted across the peninsula toward the Atlantic Ocean, where it will head north and threaten the Georgia-South Carolina coast. 

As of this morning, the probable path would take the center of the storm over the Lowcountry Friday night and into the middle of the state by 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.

County under hurricane watch, storm surge warning

Updated 2:30 p.m., Sept. 28 

Charleston County is under a hurricane watch and storm surge warning today as local and state government officials continue to prepare for the impacts of Hurricane Ian, now a dangerous Category 4 storm off the coast of Florida.  The hurricane is expected to make landfall in southwest Florida today and churn northward as it crosses the state Thursday to the Atlantic Ocean coast.  It then will head northerly toward South Carolina, making landfall as a tropical storm around the South Carolina-Georgia border, according to weather forecasters. 

Later today, winds in Charleston Harbor will rise and continue to strengthen. The storm is expected to bring coastal flooding, storm surge, gusty winds and heavy rain to the Lowcountry and state on Thursday.  On Friday, the area may have more rain and wind gusts up to 60 mph, officials said.

Some recent highlights:

Schools closed.  Charleston County schools will be closed for classes Thursday and Friday as students take advantage of two e-learning days, according to school district officials. Employees will work remotely.

Free parking.  The city of Charleston will open several parking garages for free 5 p.m. Thursday to 5 p.m. Saturday to allow people to get cars out of expected flooding.  Garages include those near the S.C. Aquarium; East Bay and Prioleau streets; Queen Street, the Visitor Center and 99 West Edge.  No boats, trailers, golf carts.

Airport.  Officials at Charleston International Airport said they are continuing to monitor the weather but the airport would close when winds are 35 knots or greater.  Passengers concerned about flights should contact their airline.

Charleston city offices closed.  The city of Charleston will close its offices 3 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday.

Sandbag distribution.  You can get sandbags through Thursday, as available, officials said.

Cancellations.  Several Charleston events (see list below) have been canceled.  For an updated list, visit the city’s website. 

Garbage.  Trash will not be collected Friday in Charleston or North Charleston.

County under storm surge, tropical storm watches

Updated 3:30 p.m., Sept. 27, 2022 | Charleston County is under a Tropical Storm Watch and Storm Surge Watch as officials continue to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Ian. According to the National Weather Service, the county could experience a storm surge of two feet to four feet in the next 48 hours.

“At this time, the primary threat to the city of Charleston is expected to be flooding due to heavy rainfall and high tides starting Wednesday evening and continuing through Saturday,” according to a statement by the City of Charleston. “Between Wednesday and Sunday, six to eight inches of rainfall is projected. Locally higher amounts and substantial rainfall rates may occur.”

Also expected as early as Wednesday is coastal flooding, which may be exacerbated by rainfall Thursday and Friday. Tropical storm force winds – 39 mph or greater – may come by Wednesday night and last through Friday, officials said.

A limited supply of free sand and bags is available from the city, according to the release.  

Self-serve pick-up locations (limit of 10 per residence) include: 

  • Bee’s Landing Recreation Center, 1580 Ashley Garden Blvd. (West Ashley); 
  • Hampton Park parking lot on the corner of Ashley Avenue and Mary Murray Drive (peninsula);
  • Seven Farms Drive behind Governor’s Park Dog Park, Under I-526 (Daniel Island);
  • Grace Bridge Street parking lot between America and East Bay streets (peninsula); and
  • James Island Town Hall, 1122 Dills Bluff Road (James Island).

Cancellations

Several MOJA Festival and other events have been cancelled or rescheduled.  Among the changes, according to the city:

  • West Ashley Farmers Market, Sept. 28 – cancelled. 
  • Coffee with the Mayor, Sept. 29 from 8 – 9 a.m. at Local Works, 1859 Summerville Ave., Suite 800 – cancelled. 
  • MOJA Opening Parade, Sept. 29 – cancelled. 
  • MOJA Visual Arts reception, Sept. 29, 5 – 7 p.m. at City Gallery – rescheduled to a later date. 
  • MOJA Reggae Block Dance, Sept. 30, 6 p.m. at Brittlebank Park – cancelled. 
  • Charleston Farmers Market, Oct. 1 – cancelled. 
  • Operation Neighborhood, Oct. 1 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Hampstead Square Park, Columbus and America streets – rescheduled to a later date. 
  • Black Biz on the Block, Oct. 1 – from 1 to 5 p.m. at Philip Simmons Park, 64 Columbus St. – rescheduled to Oct. 22. 
  • Cooper River Bridge Run Kids Run, Oct, 2 from 2 – 6 p.m. at Stoney Field – rescheduled to a later date.

City of Charleston begins storm preparations

Updated 1 p.m. Sept. 26, 2022  |  City of Charleston officials say they are closely monitoring Hurricane Ian and have started initial preparations for potential storm impacts.

“The primary threat to the Charleston area from Hurricane Ian is expected to be heavy rainfall Thursday night into Friday that could lead to flooding,” according to a press release that referenced the National Weather Service in Charleston.  “Between Wednesday and Sunday, six to eight inches of rainfall is projected.  Locally, higher amounts and substantial rainfall rates may occur.”

The city’s update said coastal flooding could start as early as Wednesday and continue through Friday with winds that day of up to 39 mph.  

Currently, city officials are:

  • Working to reserve temporary pumps to position in low-lying areas.
  • Cleaning ditches and drains.
  • Lowering water levels in Lake Dotterer and Colonial Lake.

“Although it is too early to know what the impacts of Hurricane Ian will be on the city, citizens should begin to prepare now,” said City of Charleston Emergency Management Director Ben Almquist.  “Make sure your family has a plan and emergency supplies in place, and continue to monitor the path of the storm.”

Ian strengthens to hurricane as S.C. coast now in storm cone

Updated 8:34 a.m. Sept. 26  |  Tropical Storm Ian was upgraded into a hurricane Sunday as it headed to slam into Cuba before potentially strengthening and striking the Gulf coast of Florida. Officials in that state have called up the National Guard to deal with the emergency and a tropical storm warning has been issued for the Florida Keys.

The 5 a.m. Monday storm map by the National Hurricane Center shows the storm possibly impacting weather as a heavy storm from Alabama to South Carolina by 2 a.m. Saturday. But some stories say it’s too early to predict the impact on South Carolina, where some grocery stores on Sunday already were selling out of water.



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