A tropical storm warning, storm surge warning and hurricane watch has been issued for coastal Liberty County, and a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch have been issued for inland Liberty.
At 8 a.m. today, the center of Tropical Storm Ian was about 40 miles (70 km) east of Orlando, Florida. Ian is moving toward the northeast near 8 mph (13 km/h). A turn toward the north-northeast is expected later today, followed by a turn toward the north and north-northwest with an increase in forward speed Friday and Friday night. On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move off the east-central coast of Florida soon and then approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday. The center will move farther inland across the Carolinas Friday night and Saturday. Maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Some re-intensification is forecast, and Ian could be near hurricane strength when it approaches the coast of South Carolina on Friday. Weakening is expected Friday night and Saturday after Ian moves inland.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 415 miles (665 km) from the center. Daytona Beach International Airport recently reported a sustained wind of 60 mph (97 km/h) and a gust to 70 mph (113 km/h). The estimated minimum central pressure is 987 mb (29.15 inches) based on surface observations.
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 water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide.
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the right of the center, where the surge will be accompanied by large waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
Tropical storm conditions are occurring in parts of the warning area on the east and west coasts of Florida and should spread northward along the Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina coasts today through Friday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area in northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina through Friday.
Ian is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches, with local maxima of 12 inches, along the Georgia coast.
Widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flash and urban flooding, with major to record flooding along rivers, will continue across central Florida. Widespread considerable flash, urban, and river flooding is expected across portions of northeast Florida, southeastern Georgia, and eastern South Carolina from Friday through the weekend. Locally considerable flash, urban, and river flooding is possible this weekend across portions of the southern Appalachians, where landslides will be possible as well.
A tornado or two remains possible across east-central and northeast Florida through this morning. This threat will shift into the coastal Carolinas on Friday.
Swells will increase along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina today. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.
Potential impacts include some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds. Mobile homes may be damaged, especially if unanchored. Unsecured lightweight objects become dangerous projectiles during tropical storm force winds.
Several large trees may be snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted.
Some roads could be made impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places. A few bridges and access routes also may become impassable.
Travel by vehicle or on foot also is expected to become increasingly difficult
Residents are asked to be prepared for scattered power and communications outages. Outages may be more prevalent in areas with above ground lines, which could persist for hours or days.
The storm surge threat has remained nearly steady from the previous assessment.
Rough surf, coastal erosion, and life-threatening rip currents are possible. Rainfall is expected to be from 4-8 inches, with locally higher amounts.
There is also the potential for a few tornadoes.
Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency throughout the state to go into effect Thursday at 7 a.m. Damaging winds will be possible statewide, even well away from the center of the storm, and downed trees and powerlines are possible statewide on Friday and Saturday.
Estimates from the National Weather Service indicate Hinesville could receive from 6-8 inches of rain and up to 10 inches along the coast.
Flash flooding, power outages, and other dangerous situations are possible, especially in southeast Georgia.
Locally heavy rainfall could result in flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas. The potential for excessive rainfall will be greatest near the coast.
The risk for coastal flooding will increase with the high tides beginning today. Tides could reach moderate to major coastal flood levels Thursday morning, Thursday evening into Saturday. Any rainfall that coincides with high tide will increase coastal flooding.
Gusty winds, possibly to tropical storm force, are expected to develop today night through Friday. Winds will be highest over the coastal waters and along the immediate coast. Gusty winds and saturated ground could contribute to localized downed trees.
The health departments in Liberty and Long counties have suspended operations for Thursday and Friday, and all Coastal Health District offices will be closed Thursday and Friday.
The approach of Hurricane Ian has led Long County Schools to cancel classes for Thursday and Friday and the Liberty County School System to reschedule activities.
Liberty County High School’s football game Friday night against Groves at Donell Woods Stadium is being moved to tonight. It also was supposed to be homecoming for the Panthers, and LCHS is rescheduling those festivities. Homecoming now will be observed October 28, and the homecoming dance will be held October 29.
Liberty County High also has canceled its volleyball match Thursday with Frederica Academy and a cross country meet today at Savannah Christian. A softball game with Savannah Christian originally set for Thursday has been postponed until October 3.
Coastal Electric Cooperative is closely monitoring Hurricane Ian's path and predictions on how the storm will affect its customers.
Since Monday, EMC has been patrolling its main feeder lines serving the coastal communities east of I-95 in Liberty, Bryan and McIntosh counties looking for “danger trees” outside its normal 30-foot right of way. EMC crews have identified a number of dead trees; if they were to fall, could damage EMC powerlines. Crews are cutting those trees today in anticipation of brisk tropical storm winds.
Since Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a lot of EMC’s coastal area powerlines have been placed underground. Keeping the feeder lines up along the highways can assure power to the underground served subdivisions.
Impacts are expected to begin as early as Thursday and last through Saturday with wind gusts expected to be 34 mph or more. Because the soil is already saturated from recent rain, the primary concern is that more heavy rain likely will result in downed trees across Coastal EMC power lines.
As the storm makes its way through the Coastal EMC service area, its right-of-way crews and linemen will immediately respond as long as it is safe to do so. For their safety, EMC linemen will monitor weather conditions at all times and will shelter in place if sustained winds reach 39 mph. Work will resume once winds subside.
Coastal EMC urges everyone to stay well clear of any downed power line or even trees or limbs that are touching a downed power line. Lines that appear dead can remain energized, even lying on the ground.
A person can receive a fatal electrocution from standing on wet ground near an energized line.
Coastal EMC’s customer service lobby in Richmond Hill and Midway will be closed Friday, but all of its employees will be working on storm duty.
The easiest way to report a power outage is with the Coastal EMC mobile app or you can call (800) 421-2343. The EMC also will be posting frequent updates to its Facebook page at Facebook.com/MyElectricCoop.