From the Miami Herald:
Hurricane Ian weakened into a tropical storm early Thursday while trekking across Florida toward the Atlantic, where it could near hurricane strength before approaching South Carolina.
And while Ian is much weaker than when it hit Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, it remains a large storm, with tropical storm-force winds extending up to 415 miles from the center.
Forecasters say Ian will continue to batter parts of the state — and eventually Georgia and the Carolinas — with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge. Nearly all of the storm’s heavy rains are to the north over northeastern Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flooding, with major to record river flooding, will continue today across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina expected today through the end of the week,” the hurricane center said.
Ian is about 40 mile southeast of Orlando and about 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral early Thursday, as of the hurricane center’s 5 a.m. advisory. The storm has maximum sustained winds near 65 mph with higher gusts and is moving northeast at 8 mph.
“Coastal water levels continue to subside along the west coast of Florida. There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge today through Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials,” the hurricane center said.
Forecasters expect Ian’s center will move off the east-central coast of Florida later Thursday into the Atlantic, where it could near hurricane strength again while approaching the coast of South Carolina on Friday. Once it makes landfall in South Carolina, forecasters expect it will weaken quickly and eventually dissipate or be absorbed by another broader area of low pressure while moving farther inland across the Carolinas this weekend.
As of this morning, 2.5 million people are without power. Rescue and restoration efforts will continue today when the sun comes up.