Ian likely to strike the Triangle overnight Friday. Cooper declares State of Emergency.

With “monster” Hurricane Ian lashing Florida and setting its sights northward, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm is expected to strike hardest in the Triangle on Friday evening into Saturday, possibly raining hard and fast enough to trigger flooding.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday the storm’s most intense period could be shorter than predicted early this week, triggering overflows in Triangle streams and low-lying areas.

Overall, Ian is still expected to dump up to 5 inches of rain throughout the weekend, a heavy amount by any gauge. But the worst of it will endure less for less time.

“If there was a time I was going to just stay put, it would be Friday evening to Saturday morning,” said Nick Petro, meteorologist. “I don’t want people to think the sun’s going to come out and everything will resume, but in terms of the worst of it, that will end a little sooner.”

NC Emergency Management reported Wednesday that heavy rain remains the greatest threat statewide, spreading west to east and possibly triggering coastal floods and tornadoes.

The greatest chance for flooding comes along the state’s border with Virginia.

State of Emergency

Cooper’s declaration means the state’s emergency operations plan is activated, helping first responders and farmers and offering price gouging protections for residents.

“A State of Emergency is needed now so that farmers and those preparing for the storm can more quickly get ready for the heavy rain that is likely to fall in much of our state,” Cooper said. “North Carolinians should stay aware, keep a close eye on the forecast and prepare their emergency supplies.”

Petro said the Triangle and Piedmont sit in a relative “low spot” for the storm compared with what might hit both the NC mountains and coast, but the threat of flash flooding is still great depending on how much rain falls in a short period.

Meanwhile, the Triangle’s largest event scheduled for this weekend — IBMA Bluegrass Live starting Friday in downtown Raleigh — has shifted the entire event indoors.

Also, the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro announced it will be closed Friday and Saturday due to the storm.