Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ian nears Category 5 hurricane strength, gale warning in some areas of Carolinas

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The National Weather Service’s 8 a.m. update includes a warning for gale force winds for parts of northeastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina as Hurricane Ian nears by the end of the week.

Overnight, Ian strengthened to just shy of a category 5 storm, with winds at 155 miles per hour (cat 5 is marked at 157). It is expected to land north of Fort Myers and 125 miles south of Tampa, with potential rainfall accumulating 12 feet to 16 feet above ground level.  

Impacts in the Carolinas may be felt by Thursday, due to high pressure located to the north, in combination with Ian’s approach. “These winds will also likely result in minor coastal flooding with each high tide on Thursday,” a release from NWS noted.

A gale warning is in effect in adjacent coastal waters from the S. Santee River in South Carolina northward.

By Friday, Tropical Storm winds could be in effect, with gusts reaching 30 to 45 miles per hour, expected to last through Saturday. It may result in power outages; isolated tornadoes are also possible.

The storm is expected to bring 6 inches to 8 inches of rain in beach towns, leading to flooding of 1 to 3 feet in some areas. NWS has Wilmington poised to receive four inches to 6 inches. Flash flooding and water levels may rise in main-stem rivers.

In Carolina Beach, the town has begun lowering its lake and retention ponds to mitigate flooding, including in Carolina Beach Village, Island Forest, Ocean Ridge, Olde Mariner’s Village, Publix, The Glenn and town hall.

Hurricane Ian’s approach will result in hazardous water conditions Thursday through Saturday. Sunday is projected to be drier.

North Carolina’s State Emergency Response Team will activate Thursday in Raleigh to begin 24-hour operations by Friday morning.

“We are coordinating with our partners in government and the non-profit and private sectors to make sure we are ready to support local communities through whatever Ian brings,” State Emergency Management Director Will Ray said in a press release.

NWS is projecting Ian to make landfall along the west coast of Florida Wednesday evening, crossing the state Thursday and moving up the coast to make landfall again somewhere along Georgia or South Carolina Friday morning.

There are no tropical watches in effect for northeast South Carolina or southeast North Carolina.

State officials advise the following preparation tips as a precaution:

  • Have multiple ways to receive emergency info, including watches and warnings. Make sure emergency alerts are enabled on your cell phone and download a weather app.
  • Have an emergency plan. Know where you would go if you need to evacuate. Make a plan to stay with family, friends or at a hotel. Public shelters should be a last resort.
  • Gather some emergency supplies or refresh your emergency kit. Visit for info on how to build an emergency kit.
  • If you live at the coast, you should know if you live in a coastal evacuation zone.  Visit to see if you are in a pre-determined evacuation zone. Learn your zone and listen for it if evacuations are ordered by local governments.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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