CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Ian was upgraded to a hurricane Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall along the Florida gulf coast either Thursday or early Friday.
Live 5 Meteorologist Joey Sovine said the storm is expected to weaken rapidly as it moves inland, but could still bring heavy rain into the Lowcountry.
A First Alert Weather Day has been declared for Friday because of the threat of heavy rain.
Sovine said rain could move into the Lowcountry as early as Thursday afternoon with the best chance for heavy rain late Thursday night through Saturday morning.
Rainfall totals between three to six inches are expected and could lead to localized flooding, Sovine said.
“With the tides running very high Thursday night through Saturday, any heavy rainfall could quickly exacerbate the flooding potential downtown,” Sovine said.
Sovine said to expect periods of heavy rain and breezy conditions on Friday.
“There may be a window Friday for a few tornadoes to develop as this storm moves into our area. Coastal flooding is also possible as the winds turn onshore Thursday and Friday,” Sovine said.
Wind gusts of up to 40 mph are possible near the beaches with breezy inland conditions, but widespread damage and power outages are not expected at this time, according to Sovine.
Ian is expected to pass near the Cayman Islands on Monday and western Cuba on Monday night or early Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
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As of 8 a.m., the center of Hurricane Ian was located near latitude 18.7 north, longitude 82.4 west, and moving northwest near 14 mph with a minimum central pressure of 981 mb. The storm was located about 90 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman and 275 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba.
Hurricane-force winds extend 15 miles from the center of the storm with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward 90 miles.
Forecasters said the storm is expected to rapidly strengthen in the next day and become a major hurricane when it is near western Cuba.
Ian is expected to enter the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday night and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday, forecasters said.
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