September 29, 2022 Hurricane Ian updates

By Elizabeth Wolfe, Travis Caldwell, Kelly McCleary, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 1:30 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022
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6:04 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian's rainfall was 10% higher because of climate change, analysis shows

From CNN’s Angela Fritz

Homes are flooded in Port Charlotte on Thursday.
Homes are flooded in Port Charlotte on Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian's rainfall was at least 10% wetter because of climate change, according to a rapid analysis released Thursday by scientists at Stony Brook University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The analysis used the same methodology as a recent peer-reviewed study that looked at the influence of climate change on the 2020 hurricane season.

Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley who ran the analysis, noted that the physical relationship between air temperature and water vapor would suggest that Hurricane Ian's rainfall should have only been around 5% higher due to climate warming.

"This means that the storms are more efficient at precipitating the available moisture," Wehner said in a statement. He also cautioned that their result is a "conservative estimate."

"Climate change didn't cause the storm but it did cause it to be wetter," Wehner said.

5:57 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Orlando International to stay closed while most other Florida airports plan to restart operations Friday

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar and Gregory Wallace

Orlando International Airport remains closed.
Orlando International Airport remains closed. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Seven of the 11 Florida airports that closed or suspended commercial service due to Hurricane Ian are scheduled to reopen by the end of the day Friday, according to CNN’s tally.  

Jacksonville International Airport is one of those, according to a tweet.

Some airlines are expected to be operating on reduced schedules, according to the airport, and travelers are encouraged to check flight their statuses before heading to the terminal. 

However, the state's busiest airport, Orlando International, said it does not have a timeline to reopen yet.

It said Thursday afternoon that damage inspections are underway. The airport did not immediately report the nature of any damage discovered during the assessments. 

“Due to the extent of the storm, no timeframe has been selected for when MCO will return to normal operations,” the airport said.  

The Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers — a place heavily hit by Ian — will also remain closed except to emergency personnel and humanitarian flights, according to a statement. 

5:36 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Ian is again a hurricane off the Atlantic coast of Florida and heading toward South Carolina

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Ian has intensified into a hurricane again with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the 5 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Ian is located about 240 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and is moving toward the north-northeast at 10 mph. 

“On the forecast track, Ian will approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday,” the hurricane center said. “The center will move farther inland across the Carolinas Friday night and Saturday.”

Some intensification is expected with Ian over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, but it is expected to remain a Category 1 storm.

Storm surge is anticipated to reach between 4 to 7 feet in South Carolina from Edisto Beach to Murrells Inlet, including Charleston.

Ian’s large wind field is expected to produce impacts well away from the center, and the forecast track has more uncertainty than normal because of the storm is disorganized after passing over Florida. 

5:36 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

These are the watches and warnings in effect for Friday

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Hurricane Ian is taking aim at the Carolinas, with forecasts predicting the storm could hit parts of the East Coast on Friday.

Here are the current watches and warnings in effect:

Storm surge warning:

  • Flagler/Volusia Line to Cape Fear
  • Neuse River
  • St. Johns River

Hurricane warning:

  • Savannah River to Cape Fear

Tropical storm warning:

  • Vero Beach, Florida, to Savannah River
  • Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina
  • Pamlico Sound

Storm surge watch:

  • North of Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina
  • Pamlico River
  • Cape Fear River

Hurricane watch:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to the Savannah River
  • East of Cape Fear to Surf City
5:36 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Fort Myers airport open only to emergency personnel and humanitarian flights

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

The Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers remains closed except to emergency personnel and humanitarian flights, according to a statement. 

“As soon as power and water is restored, we will open for commercial flights. When we have more information, we will advise,” it said via Twitter. 

airport initially canceled all flights on Tuesday ahead of the storm.

Read the tweet:

5:30 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

USGS predicts Ian will cause significant changes to the coastlines of Georgia and South Carolina

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar 

South Carolina and Georgia’s coastlines could be significantly impacted by storm system Ian, according to a new US Geological Survey coastal change forecast released on Thursday. 

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center forecast that newly strengthened Hurricane Ian would hit the South Carolina coast as a Category 1 storm on Friday. Storm surge is anticipated to reach between 4 to 7 feet in South Carolina from Edisto Beach to Murrells Inlet, including Charleston, it said.

USGS researchers are forecasting the waves and surges caused by Ian may cause 11% of South Carolina’s and 1% of Georgia’s dunes along sandy beaches to be inundated — meaning continuously covered by ocean water. 

“This is the most severe type of storm effect on coastal beaches, with flooding behind the dunes that may impact coastal communities,” the USGS said. 

In addition, approximately 43% of South Carolina’s and 24% of Georgia’s dunes along sandy beaches are expected to be overwashed by Ian. Overwash is considered the second most severe level of coastal damage, taking place when water levels reach higher than the top of dunes.

“When a beach is overwashed, sand can be pushed and deposited inland, causing significant changes to coastal landscapes and blocking roadways,” the USGS said. “Overwash can reduce the height of protective sand dunes, alter beach profiles and leave areas behind the dunes more vulnerable to future storms.” 

In South Carolina 99% of the dunes and in Georgia 77% of dunes are projected to face some level of erosion caused by Ian, the USGS said. Erosion at the base of sand dunes is considered the least severe level of storm damage on sandy shorelines. 

5:15 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Non-emergency lines down in Marco Island, Florida

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

All non-emergency lines at the Marco Island police department are down following Hurricane Ian’s move through Florida’s west coast.

In a statement posted Thursday, officials asked residents to be patient.

The statement advised residents to call Collier County dispatchers at 239-252-9300 if they want to request a welfare check on loved ones.  

It added that residents should keep in mind that neighbors in Collier and Lee Counties are in much more need of urgent services. 

Marco Island, a barrier island south of Naples, has a population of around 16,000, according to the US Census.

4:53 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Hospital system in Lee County evacuating more than 1,000 patients after Ian cut off water supply

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

Lee Health, a large hospital system in Lee County, is evacuating more than 1,000 patients because it doesn’t have water and it’s not clear when the water supply will be restored, said Mary Mayhew, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Hospital Association.

There are teams of state officials that are helping transfer patients, according to Mayhew, and "that process is underway."

Most hospitals in Florida were not damaged when Ian barreled through as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday because of preparations and “work that they’ve done to harden their facilities against the threat of hurricanes,” Mayhew said.

Hospitals were prepared with generators and fuel, so there aren’t any concerns about disruption to power, Mayhew said. But the lack of water is a problem. 

“The biggest issue right now is the damage and destruction to local public utilities, both the electrical grid and the water supply,” she told CNN on Thursday. 

About 1,200 patients were at Lee Health before the hurricane. Mayhew said the hospitals had yet to see people injured in the storm “because the search and rescue operations couldn’t begin until it became safe to be out on the roads.”

4:50 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

South Carolina's Charleston County declares a state of emergency ahead of Ian

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

A state of emergency has been declared in Charleston County, South Carolina, as residents prepare for the impact of a strengthening Ian. 

The Charleston County Council noted that the county “has moved operations to OPCON 1 meaning a disaster or emergency is imminent,” according to a media release.

Charleston County, which includes the city of Charleston, and has a population of about 413,000, according to the US Census Bureau.

“There is the potential for major flooding tomorrow,” said Charleston County Emergency Management Director Joe Coates. “If you live on a barrier island or a low-lying area that historically floods, and you haven’t moved to higher ground, I recommend you relocate now.”

Ian is expected to intensify from a tropical storm into a hurricane by the time it hits South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.