Hurricane Ian continued to grow in strength early Friday, with forecasters expecting it to hit the Carolina coast with “life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions” later in the day.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. EDT update that the center of the storm was located 175 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., and 260 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, N.C., traveling north-northeast at 10 mph.
Forecasters expect that it will reach the coast of South Carolina on Friday before moving farther inland across the Carolinas into Saturday.
The storm grew in strength overnight, and had sustained winds of 85 mph hour as of 2 a.m. though forecasters predict there will be little change before it makes landfall, after which “rapid weakening is forecast over the southeastern United States late today into Saturday,” the NHC said.
A turn toward the north is expected early Friday followed by a turn to the north-northwest with an increase in speed Friday night, it said.
“On the forecast track, Ian will approach the coast of South Carolina today,” it said.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the North Carolina coast, from Savannah River Inlet to Cape Fear. A storm surge warning exists for the Flager/Volusia County Line to Cape Fear as well as for the Neuse River and the St. Johns River.
A storm surge watch is also in effect for north of Cape Fear to Duck, N.C., and for the Pamlico River and the Cape Fear River while a hurricane watch was issued from east of Cape Fear to Surf City, N.C.
“The combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline,” the NHC said in its update. Water could reach up to 7 feet in some of the areas under a storm surge watch.
A tropical storm warning remains in place from the Flager/Volusia County Line to Savannah, Ga.; Cape fear to Duck, N.C.; and Pamlico Sound.
A hurricane watch also remains in place for east of Cape Fear to Surf City.