Live 5's Patrick Phillips and Steven Ardary
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch Wednesday morning for portions of the Lowcountry in addition to tropical storm warnings and watches already in effect.
The hurricane watch covers the South Carolina coast from the Charleston-Georgetown County line south to the South Carolina-Georgia line.
The same area, which includes Charleston, costal Coastal Colleton, Beaufort and coastal Jasper Counties, is also under a Storm Surge Warning as of 11 a.m.
Charleston, Berkeley, Beaufort, Coastal Colleton and Jasper Counties are now under a tropical storm warning, meaning tropical storm-force winds are expected within 36 hours. Dorchester and inland Colleton Counties were placed under a tropical storm watch Tuesday night as well.
A storm surge watch is also in effect for Charleston, coastal Colleton and Beaufort Counties.
A tropical storm watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of 39 to 73 mph or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. The watch does not mean that tropical storm conditions will occur. It only means that these conditions are possible.
The National Hurricane Center says a storm surge watch is defined as the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone.
Preliminary forecasts show that two to four feet of peak storm surge is possible Thursday or Friday.
Weakening is expected after landfall, but Ian could be near hurricane strength when it moves over the Florida East coast tomorrow, and when it approaches the northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts late Friday.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.
A Weatherflow station on Sanibel Island recently reported sustained winds of 58 mph with a gust to 75 mph. The estimated minimum central pressure is 937 mb, or 27.67 inches.