Hurricane Ian makes landfall in South Carolina: How far inland will it go?
Extreme conditions have battered the east coast and meteorologists warn that the damage will continue, despite Ian being downgraded to a tropical storm.
After picking up speed over the Atlantic on Thursday evening, Hurricane Ian stuck the South Carolina coast on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane. With sustained winds of 85mph the hurricane brought severe storm surges and flood-inducing rainfall to the Palmetto State.
However, as is always the case, the system began to lose momentum as it moved inland and after around three hours the maximum sustained winds had dropped to 70mph and AccuWeather meteorologists downgraded Ian to a tropical rainstorm.
However it remains an extremely dangerous weather system and alerts remain in place across parts of five states: Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Winds with the strength of a tropical storm have been observed 485 miles from the center, predominantly to the north. Areas of Pennsylvania and New England are covered by the cloud shield.
Where will Hurricane Ian go next?
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) states that Ian made landfall in South Carolina just after 2pm on Friday, near Georgetown. On Friday afternoon it was moving in a northerly direction at a speed of around 15mph. Current projections suggested that the epicentre of the storm will continue at this trajectory towards through North Carolina and Virginia and towards West Virginia.
AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said: “After pushing onshore in South Carolina, Ian’s center will track into central North Carolina, southwestern Virginia and perhaps into West Virginia this weekend.”
However this only tells part of the story and the effects of Ian, even as the wind speeds continue to drop, will be felt much further afield. On Friday there was heavy rain and thunderstorms in areas hundreds of miles northeast of the hurricane itself, with the risk of quick spin-up tornadoes and waterspouts all across South Carolina and North Carolina.
In the coming days and weeks the fallout from this storm, thought to be one of the most damaging in recent history, will become more apparent. The torrential rains have caused widespread flooding on the east coast and knocked out critical infrastructure for millions.
In South Carolina and North Carolina the ground has become so saturated with rainwater that there is a real danger of trees falling as the soil becomes loose, a situation exacerbated by the strong winds.
So far 42 people have been reported dead as a direct result of the storm, but that number is expected to grow considerably in the coming days as search and reduce efforts continue.