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Ian forecast to bring wind, heavy rain to region

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Ian rainfall

The remnants of Hurricane Ian are forecast to bring heavy rain, flooding, tropical storm-force winds and the possibility of isolated tornadoes to The T&D Region by the end of this week.

“The message to get across today is for everyone to have a plan,” Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said. “There is a lot of uncertainty in the track forecast.”

“There is an increased potential for us to have heavy rainfall with isolated to widespread flooding, depending on how much rainfall and how quickly it falls,” Staley said. “We want to make sure everyone does not let their guard down and watch the forecasts over the next couple of days. This is a very dynamic and changing storm and a very difficult one to forecast.”

A high pressure system in the Great Lakes region and Ian to the south will create a tight pressure gradient, causing gusty winds Thursday ahead of the arrival of Ian.

Orangeburg could begin seeing gusty winds from Ian shortly after midnight Thursday.

Sustained winds are forecast to be in the 20 mph range, but Staley said there will be an increased risk of tornadoes Friday and Saturday.

Winds will continue to gust into the 30 mph range through Friday night.

A slight lull is forecast for Saturday morning before picking up again Saturday afternoon with possible gusts reaching 40 mph.

The height of the storm is forecast to be in the Orangeburg area from 8 a.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday, according to the Monday afternoon track.

According to Monday's early afternoon track, there is a 20 percent to 40 percent chance The T&D Region will see tropical storm-force wind gusts of 39 mph or higher. Hurricane-strength winds are not currently forecast for the area.

According to the Orangeburg forecast, there is a 20 percent chance of showers on Thursday, increasing to about 50 percent Thursday night.

There’s about a 60 to 70 percent chance of rain Friday and Friday night, with some storms potentially producing heavy rainfall. The chance of rain declines on Saturday to 60 percent.

Breezy conditions will remain through Saturday night.

The T&D Region could see a total of three to four inches of rain.

As of Monday afternoon, there were no closings or plans to open shelters, Staley said.

Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities is monitoring the storm.

“It appears, from what we are seeing, that our biggest threat will be rainfall,” DPU spokesman Randy Etters said.

Early Monday afternoon, Ian was packing hurricane-strength winds and moving toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Ian is forecast to reach 120 mph or Category 3 strength as it nears Florida’s west coast. It’s then forecast to weaken to a Category 1 or 2 hurricane before making landfall near the Big Bend area of Florida.

The storm is forecast to move into Georgia and become a tropical depression by Saturday morning.

The state-owned utility Santee Cooper announced Monday it went to Operating Condition 4 alert status. Santee Cooper provides power to Bamberg.

The status means there is a possible threat to Santee Cooper’s electric system, but effects may be limited or uncertain.

At OpCon 4, the utility is primarily checking and fueling vehicles, making sure communications equipment is in proper working order and taking inventory and procuring supplies as needed.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division encouraged residents to continue to monitor Ian via local news media and follow updates from the National Hurricane Center.

The SCEMD is encouraging people in potentially vulnerable areas to review their plans and consider actions they will need to take if the storm threatens the state.

“Much of what South Carolina experiences will depend on where and when Hurricane Ian makes landfall,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said, “While we are not expecting the full force of a hurricane-strength storm, everyone in South Carolina, from the Upstate to the Midlands, the Pee Dee and the Lowcountry should be prepared to take personal safety precautions if advised to do so by your local emergency managers.”

SCEMD has several resources available to help people prepare for storms, including the state’s online, interactive hurricane guide at hurricane.sc.

Also, the S.C. Emergency Manager app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

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