UPDATE: We have a more current forecast available. Visit our Hurricane Ian section for the most up-to-date information.
RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina is hours away from stormy weather after Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida’s Gulf Coast.
North Carolina Emergency Management issued an 8 a.m. Thursday morning update over Facebook and FOX8 Meteorologist Alex Schneider is tracking the story at FOX8 the morning after the storm made landfall in Lee County, Florida, as a Category 4 hurricane.
“We have fatalities in the hundreds,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno of Lee County, Florida, on “Good Morning America,” according to Fox News. GMA reported that Marceno does not yet have an exact number, and Florida Emergency Management has not yet issued a formal announcement on injuries or lives lost during the storm.
By Thursday morning, Ian had weakened to a tropical storm with forecasts saying it would cross into the Atlantic later in the day before turning up toward South Carolina Friday.
“There is good model agreement in this general scenario, but there remains uncertainty in where exactly along the SC coast Ian will landfall and the system could be near hurricane intensity,” NCEM reported.
Emergency management says the storm is “faster than previously anticipated,, ” meaning North Carolina may see impacts sooner than previously thought.
FOX8 Meteorologist Alex Schneider said rainfall could reach North Carolina as early as 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday. The heaviest of the rainfall moves in by the end of the day Friday.
Schneider forecasts wind gusts between 20 to 30 mph on Thursday. By Friday evening, wind gusts could reach 50 mph.
The greatest flooding risk will be during the day Friday and Friday night.
“While localized flash flooding will be possible statewide tomorrow, the greatest threat has shifted farther south and expanded eastward along the NC/SC border,” NCEM reported.
As of 5 a.m. Thursday, North Carolina’s Cape Lookout is now within the area of concern with 1 to 3 feet of flooding possible and facing a Tropical Storm Warning.
Portions of the southern mountains and areas along the North-South Carolina border, including the Charlotte metro area, are under a Moderate Risk of excessive rainfall, meaning multiple areas of flash flooding are likely and significant flooding is possible. Much of the rest of the state is under a Slight Risk, meaning scattered flash flood is possible primarily in urban and poor-drainage areas.
Schneider says the Triad area may see 3 to 5 inches of rain.
Scattered showers will continue through the weekend into Monday with more scattered rainfall. Heavy downpours and localized flooding will also be possible, particularly in the northern half of the state.
In the mountains, heavy rain could cause landslides and rises on main-stem rivers. There may be minor river flooding, but NCEM does not expected moderate or major river flooding.
There is now a higher chance that sustained tropical-storm force winds could hit the state, especially along the North-South Carolina border.
“Areas along NC coast south of Cape Lookout are now forecast to see sustained winds of 30-40 mph, with gusts up to 45-50 mph,” NCEM reported. “Elsewhere across the state, wind gusts will likely peak 25-40 mph, but some stronger gusts are possible across southern portions of the Piedmont and Sandhills.”
Those winds could mean downed trees and power outages.
There is a Tropical Storm Warning in place between Surf City and Cape Lookout. Coastal Flood Warnings and Coastal Flood Advisories are in effect from Thursday morning through early Saturday for central portions of the coast. Areas east of I-95 are under a Marginal Risk for severe storms with brief tornadoes and damaging wind gusts for Friday and Friday night.