Hurricane Ian, just shy of Category 5 strength, is moving onshore in southwestern Florida, as millions of residents are bracing for life-threatening storms, catastrophic winds, and floods.
Now at Category 4 with sustained winds of 155 mph, Ian’s center was about 45 miles west-northwest of Naples at around 11 a.m. ET. Ian is expected to cross onto land, perhaps north of Fort Myers near the Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda areas by early Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has warned of a “nasty, nasty day.” It is “knocking on the door of a category five storm,” DeSantis said, adding that bridge closures and forty thousand power cuts had already been reported.
As the storm continues to approach, several webcams show real-time conditions across the central Florida coastline. See the webcams below to see Hurricane Ian as it approaches Florida.
Much of west-central Florida and even places inland face disaster, as the storm will possibly surge up to eighteen feet and swallow coastal homes. Furthermore, the rain could cause flooding across much of the state and crushing winds could flatten homes and halt electricity service for days or weeks.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm was “rapidly intensifying.” The eyewall of the storm—the area immediately outside the eye of the hurricane—will move on shore soon, the NHC said, just before noon local time on Wednesday.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 28, 2022
On Tuesday, the storm pummeled Cuba, leaving at least two dead and an island-wide blackout.
Ian seems to be taking aim at Florida’s vulnerable Gulf Coast, where residents have been boarding up and leaving in droves on congested highways. More than 2.5 million people were advised to flee, including 1.75 million under mandatory evacuation orders, as the state has a large elderly population, some of whom have to be moved from long-term care centers.
By late Thursday, Ian is due to emerge over the Atlantic Ocean, where it could further pick up strength and affect other parts of the United States.
On early Wednesday morning, parts of far southern Florida had already begun feeling the storm’s effects with tropical storm-force winds and at least two possible tornadoes reported in Broward County, including at North Perry Airport, where planes and hangers were damaged. Major flooding was being reported in Key West due to storm surge along with power outages.
MAJOR storm surge Pine Island, Florida Dominator Fore Hurricane Ian eye wall pic.twitter.com/WUQHLtaQvi
— Reed Timmer, PhD (@ReedTimmerAccu) September 28, 2022
Schools, supermarkets, theme parks, hospitals, and airports had announced closures. The Navy has moved its ships, and the Coast Guard has shut down ports.