Hurricane Ian left major devastation in its wake in Florida as it barreled towards South Carolina's coast on Friday.
The deadly hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday, but strengthened again into a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and higher gusts as of early Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of early Friday, the storm was about 105 miles south-southeast of the South Carolina port city of Charleston and was moving northeast at 9 mph, the hurricane center said. While Ian is expected to hit the coast of the state later in the day, it isn’t clear when and where exactly it will make landfall.
At least 12 people were confirmed dead in the storm as of late Thursday, with seven of the fatalities reported in Charlotte County, near where Ian made landfall on Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane.
More than 2 million people across Florida were still without power Friday days after the storm tore into the state as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. It has caused widespread devastation, including major floods that have trapped residents in their homes.
What initially formed as Tropical Depression Nine early Friday strengthened that night into Tropical Storm Ian, the hurricane center said.
The center had warned as Ian advanced towards Florida that the hurricane was "expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida Peninsula."
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday declared a state of emergency for 24 counties when the system was a tropical depression.
On Saturday, he expanded that to apply statewide, citing the risk of a major hurricane making landfall on Florida’s western coast.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida on Thursday to ensure federal resources would be dedicated to recovery efforts.
Earlier, Biden had also postponed a Florida trip scheduled for Tuesday because of the storm, the White House said Saturday. The president had planned to go to Fort Lauderdale and then to a Democratic National Committee rally in Orlando. The committee said the rally had been postponed.
A hurricane had not made landfall on the Florida Peninsula in five years, since Irma in 2017, while the northwestern part of the state was pummeled by Sally in 2020 and Michael in 2018.