Ian threatens yet another landfall in Southeast, widespread impacts
States of emergencies have been issued in Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas as AccuWeather meteorologists warn that Ian’s dangers are far from over across the Southeast as hazards both inland and along the coast are expected.
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Beyond what Ian does as it pummels Florida, the storm will continue to spread flooding rainfall, coastal impacts and the potential for damaging winds northward as yet another landfall in the Southeast as a Category 1 hurricane was becoming increasingly likely, AccuWeather meteorologists warn.
States of emergency have been declared in Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas in advance of Ian's arrival, and hurricane warnings as well as storm surge warnings have been issued.
A quick loss in wind intensity is projected into Thursday as Ian slows down and moves inland over Florida. Despite the fact that Ian has been downgraded on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the storm’s impacts will worsen and expand in reach across the Southeast, AccuWeather forecasters say.
"Tropical rainfall is forecast to impact more than half a dozen states into this weekend," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
This radar image of Tropical Storm Ian was taken on Thursday morning, Sept. 29, 2022.
As of the midday hours on Thursday, Ian had completed its trek across the Florida Peninsula and was emerging over the Atlantic once again.
Depending on how long the center of Ian is able to spin over the Atlantic, Ian may be able to regain significant wind intensity. AccuWeather meteorologists are projecting Ian to regain hurricane status and then swing back toward the U.S. on Friday.
A large swath from Georgia to Virginia is forecast to pick up at least 2-4 inches of rain from Ian spanning Friday through the weekend. A persistent stream of moisture off the warm Gulf Stream waters of the Atlantic Ocean will fuel even higher rainfall totals of 12-18 inches for coastal areas of Georgia and part of South Carolina.
"Another location that could experience higher rainfall totals compared to other parts of the Southeast is in the southern Appalachians. There, tropical moisture will be streaming up the mountains, which will cause enhanced rainfall," Travis said. A pocket of 4-8 inches of rain will fall, centered on western North Carolina, with the potential for similar rainfall to extend northeastward into parts of Virginia and West Virginia.
Forecasters are not expecting a widespread inland flooding disaster with Ian, but they do caution that residents throughout the region should be mindful of the risk of flash flooding, rising streams and high water covering streets. High-terrain areas of the southern Appalachians may also be at risk for mudslides.
"Ian will slow down over the Southeast states, but as long as it maintains some forward speed, rainfall will be heavy but not over the top," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "However, if Ian stalls over the Southeast for a day or two, there is the potential for much heavier rainfall to fall over a broad area, including interior locations."
Even in the absence of flooding problems, travelers throughout the region should anticipate delays both on the roadway and in the air. People with outdoor plans during the affected days may want to consider other arrangements.
Although Ian's wind will be trending downward by this point in its life cycle, forecasters expect the breadth of the storm's wind field to expand, resulting in tropical-storm-force wind gusts, which range from 39 to 73 mph, encompassing portions of Georgia and the Carolinas.
As the ground becomes increasingly saturated with Ian's rain pouring down, the greater the likelihood of wind gusts at the lower end of the tropical storm-force threshold to down trees and power lines.
"Coastal flooding is also a major concern along the southern Atlantic Seaboard," Travis said.
The combination of Ian's circulation to the south and an area of high pressure farther north will increase onshore winds from northeast Florida to the Carolinas and direct an abnormally high amount of water into the coastline.
Storm surge warnings have been hoisted along the coast from northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, to just north of Charleston, South Carolina, as a result of the threat for life-threatening inundation. Experts urge property owners in these areas to rush flood preparations to completion ahead of the push of water.
There is a risk of significant beach erosion as a result of days of pounding waves. This heavy wave action can breach sand dunes and flood neighboring roads and properties. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion, and some areas have not recovered following a destructive storm back in the spring and ongoing impacts from climate change and rising seas.
Farther north, AccuWeather meteorologists continue to monitor what impacts might reach into the northeastern United States.
The widespread nature of the impacts to the Northeast, mainly tropical rainfall, will depend heavily on the exact trajectory of Ian through the weekend. There will be a lot of dry air in the region prior to Ian's arrival, and it's possible this could minimize the amount of rain the area receives or even steer Ian off the mid-Atlantic coast.
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