Ian, a hurricane once more, is swirling over the Atlantic and barreling toward South Carolina, threating to carve a new path of destruction when it roars ashore near the historic city of Charleston.
The storm is forecast to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, driving a surge of water up to 7 feet (2.1 meters) ashore and dropping up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
Florida, meanwhile, continues to reel under the storm’s impact. More than 1.9 million homes and businesses remain without power, and Lee County, the hardest-hit area, has no running water. Homes, bridges and other infrastructure are in ruin, with damage estimates ranging from $65 billion to $100 billion. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it will take years to recover.
Florida officials have confirmed one death from Ian, while 20 more remain unconfirmed, according to Kevin Guthrie, director of the state’s division of emergency management. Authorities have warned the death toll may climb. Three people were killed in Cuba, according to the Associated Press.
Florida’s Lee County Has No Running Water After Ian (9:58 a.m.)
Lee County, the hardest-hit area in Florida, has no running water due to a water main break, DeSantis said during a press conference. An “extraordinary amount of water has been staged” to supply residents there, he said.
Rescuers have gone to more than 3,000 homes and are continuing to conduct searches, DeSantis said. Fuel supply is flowing to the state, though some gas stations remain without power, he said. Power has been restored to 117 healthcare facilities.
Florida Power Outages Drop Below 2 Million (9:24 a.m.)
Power outages in Florida have dipped below 2 million homes and businesses for the first time since Hurricane Ian barreled across the state. Just over 1.9 million customers were without service at 9 a.m. local time, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks utility outages.
At peak, around 2.6 million homes and businesses were without electricity in the wake of the storm. Officials have warned many of the outages could be prolonged because of extensive damage to the grid from Ian.
Most of the outages remain concentrated in southwest Florida, where Ian land landfall with 150 mile per hour winds. Roughly 85% of homes in Lee and Charlotte counties remain without electricity.
Ian Strengthens to Become Strong Category 1 Storm (7:45 a.m.)
Ian’s top winds are now gusting at 85 miles per hour, making it a strong Category 1 hurricane. Shortly before dawn, it was about 145 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.
The hurricane will hit a large part of the state’s coast with a wall of water 3 feet (0.9 meters) high, with the surge reaching as much as 7 feet in the area around flood-prone Charleston. Some areas will get as much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain. About half of all hurricane deaths are from flooding.
Storm Surge, Flooding Rains Forecast (5 a.m. NY)
Ian is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coast by the afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said in an update just before 5 a.m. Flooding rains are likely across the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
The storm was located about 145 miles south-southeast of Charleston in South Carolina, and 225 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear in North Carolina. Maximum sustained winds were 85 miles per hour, with higher gusts, and hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center. The storm is moving north-northeast at 9 mph.
“On the forecast track, the center of Ian will approach and reach the coast of South Carolina today, and then move farther inland across eastern South Carolina and central North Carolina tonight and Saturday.”
While little change in strength is expected before it reaches the coast later today, Ian should see a “rapid” weakening after landfall.
Biden Declares Emergency for South Carolina (2 a.m. NY)
Biden declared an emergency exists in South Carolina, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to the state now in the storm’s crosshairs.