Ian a hurricane again, nearing landfall in the Carolinas

Latest update on the tropics provided by Local 10 Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert Michael Lowry

(WPLG)

After thrashing east-central and northeast Florida yesterday afternoon as a strong tropical storm, Ian found its second wind after reemerging over Atlantic waters and was reclassified a hurricane on Thursday about 70 miles east of Daytona Beach.

Flooding – both from coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall – has been and continues to be the calling card of the destructive hurricane.

The storm moved steadily just east of north overnight and some of its heaviest rainbands and winds are now sweeping ashore into South Carolina this morning.

The Category 1 hurricane is forecast to make another landfall in the coming hours between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Yesterday, much of east-central Florida – from Kissimmee and Orlando northeastward to the Space Coast and Daytona Beach – saw double-digit rainfall totals.

Officially the Titusville area up to New Smyrna Beach and the Orlando metro, including Union Park, Lake Mary, Winter Springs, and Sanford, measured the highest totals from Ian, generally ranging from 14 to 16 inches.

Along Florida’s First Coast south of Jacksonville rain totals reached 9 to 11 inches in the St. Augustine area and at the St. John’s County Emergency Operations Center.

Rivers across central Florida remain in moderate and major flood stage, with some yet to peak, and will stay in flood stage into next week.

The flooding recorded at these gauges rivals, and in some cases exceeds, flooding from other historic Florida storms, including the 1933 Treasure Coast Hurricane, Donna in 1960, Fay in 2008, and Irma in 2017.

The storm surge at the coast has also been a compounding issue, not only flooding low-lying coastal areas, but not allowing flood waters to quickly drain from bloated rivers.

This morning Charleston –where a flash flood warning is in effect through at least Friday afternoon – is dealing with this one-two punch of coastal and freshwater flooding. The flooding is especially worsened around the time of high tide, with the next high tide expected by around noon from Charleston up to Myrtle Beach.

While the dangerous storm surge in South Carolina won’t exceed the type of surge seen with recent storms like Matthew in 2016 or Isaias in 2020, it will still cause coastal problems, especially along exposed coastlines where waves will contribute to beach erosion and road closures.

Although the storm surge didn’t set any records in northeast Florida – and certainly nothing like the surge they saw during Irma in 2017 – Ian was a top five storm surge event for several stations, in some cases exceeding the surge brought during Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004.

Ian is beginning to transition into a hybrid storm and, like a car that derives its energy from both gas and electricity, is getting a boost from both the warm Gulf Stream waters (the gas) and a difference in temperature in the atmosphere (electric).

For its final act into the Carolinas, Virginia Piedmont, and southern Appalachians, Ian is expected to bring up to 8 to 12 inches of rain where it could produce widespread flooding into the weekend.

(NOAA)

Beyond Ian, we’ll be following a tropical wave that’s just exited Africa in the far eastern Atlantic. Development appears likely into next week, but it’s no immediate concern for us in the U.S.

(WPLG)

About the Author:

Michael Lowry is Local 10's Hurricane Specialist and Storm Surge Expert.