MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning and will begin its trek toward the South Carolina coast. It will likely make a second landfall somewhere between Hilton Head and Charleston on Friday.

The storm made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida just after 3 p.m. Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds measured at 150 mph. By 2 a.m. Thursday, it had weakened to a category 1 with maximum sustained winds of 75mph.

Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm, impacts on the Charleston area will remain the same – heavy rain, storm surge and flooding, gusty wind, and a chance for isolated tornadoes – and will begin by Thursday.

The day will start off cloudy and breezy on Thursday and a late-morning high tide is expected to produce significant coastal flooding. Scattered showers are likely through the morning, but that heavier rain will move in through the afternoon, especially along the immediate coast.

“Overnight is when we really start to see that rain ramp up in intensity and coverage,” said Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Josh Marthers, who said the first signs of heavy tropical rains will be off our coast around midnight.

Those heavier showers will increase and remain steady through the early morning Friday. “I think the worst is going to be from about three or four in the morning through about noon and that lines up with a morning high tide as rain bands keep feeding in off the Atlantic,” said Marthers.

BOTTOM LINE

Expect rain amounts through Saturday: 4-6” back toward I-95, including much of Dorchester and Colleton counties and as much as 6-8” across the Charleston metro and up into Georgetown County.

The vast majority of rain will fall late Thursday through part of the day Friday.

Storm surge will also be a factor with coastal flooding likely Thursday through early Saturday.

We’re also looking at a tornado threat on Friday for all of the tri-county and into Williamsburg and Georgetown counties.

Peak wind gusts will range from 40-60 mph as Ian’s circulation moves on shore. We could see 60 mph and perhaps as high as 80 mph in the Charleston metro and along the coast through Friday.

“Remember, these are gusts. These are not sustained winds,” said Marthers. “And these are peak gusts, I’m not saying you are going to see frequent gusts at this level, but I think when we look at the map tomorrow afternoon after we tally up all of the storm reports there will be wind gusts in this range.”

There is also a high risk of rip currents.

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

Hurricane Watch: Charleston County, Berkeley County and coastal Colleton County

Storm Surge Warning: Charleston County and Coastal Colleton County

Tropical Storm Warning: Berkeley County, Dorchester County, inland Colleton County, Georgetown County

Tropical Storm Watch: Williamsburg County

Forecasters say power outages and downed trees are likely due to the excessive rainfall and gusty winds associated with Ian. Be sure to download the News 2 app to receive weather alerts, breaking news, and watch News 2 live on your phone if you lose power during the storm.