Gov. McMaster on Ian: ‘The time to prepare is now’

Gov. Henry McMaster urged people to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” Tuesday at a briefing on Hurricane Ian.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 1:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged people to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” Tuesday at a briefing as the state prepares for the arrival of remnants from Hurricane Ian.

“I would urge everyone right now to continue with your normal activities but prepare for the worst,” McMaster said. “We know that we will have high winds, we know that we will have a lot of water.”

The governor mentioned Charleston and other coastal towns expected to experience flooding as what is left of Ian dumps rain across the state.

“The main thing we want the citizens to do is get prepared,” he said. “We don’t know what’s coming or when but I want to remind everybody when we speak of a plan, that is not if a hurricane arrives at your front door. You need to know ahead of time where you are going to go, when you are going to go, who is going to be there, and what you are taking with you.”

National Weather Service meteorologist John Quagliariello said Ian will likely bring widespread impacts across the Palmetto State, both coastal and inland, beginning Thursday and into the weekend.

He said Ian will approach the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane on Wednesday, move northeast across the peninsula on Thursday and early Friday, before lifting north, likely as a tropical storm across portions of Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday.

“Given the uncertainty in the track, it’s certainly possible that Ian could cross Florida into the Atlantic before turning north and directly impacting the coast,” Quagliariello said. “Breezy conditions could occur on Thursday, with tropical storm force winds possible across most of the state by Friday and persisting into Saturday.”

He said strong onshore winds will result in a prolonged period of storm surge inundation beginning Thursday, and likely continuing through Saturday.

“Significant inundation of two to four feet above ground level is expected along the southern and central portions of the South Carolina coast with those in low lying, flood-prone areas being especially vulnerable,” he said. “Periods of heavy rainfall late Thursday through Saturday could produce flash flooding inland from the coast and perhaps landslides in the higher elevations in the upstate of South Carolina.”

He urged people to not focus on the category of the storm but rather the forecast, repeating that impacts could be significant across much of the state.

The National Weather Service declared tropical storm and storm surge watches for several Lowcountry counties Tuesday morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for Charleston, Berkeley, Beaufort, coastal Colleton and Jasper Counties. A storm surge watch is also in effect for Charleston, coastal Colleton and Beaufort Counties.

A tropical storm watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of 39 to 73 mph or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. The watch does not mean that tropical storm conditions will occur. It only means that these conditions are possible.

The National Hurricane Center says a storm surge watch is defined as the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone.

Preliminary forecasts show that two to four feet of peak storm surge is possible Thursday or Friday.

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters expected to strengthen it into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) as it approaches the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

Tropical-storm-force winds were expected across the southern peninsula late Tuesday, reaching hurricane-force Wednesday — when the hurricane’s eye was predicted to make landfall. With tropical storm-force winds extending 115 miles from Ian’s center, damage was expected across a wide area of Florida.