Hurricane Ian grows into powerful Category 4 storm
Hurricane Ian has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm as it bears down on Florida, potentially bringing more than 10 feet of life-threatening storm surge and intense winds and rainfall.
The hurricane, which has maximum sustained winds of more than 150 miles per hour, is set to make landfall between Sarasota and Fort Myers on the western Gulf Coast of the state.
Hurricane Ian latest satellite imagery:
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory early Wednesday that the highest risk of life-threatening storm surge is from Sarasota to Naples. The advisory states hurricane-force winds are expected to start Wednesday morning after tropical storm-force winds began Tuesday night.
“Catastrophic” wind damage is expected near the storm’s core after it makes landfall. Life-threatening flooding is also expected across central Florida, where river flooding may break records. Considerable flooding is expected in the northern and southern parts of the state, southeastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina.
The Weather Channel reported that Ian has already produced the third-highest storm surge in 100 years in Key West. After it makes landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, the storm is predicted to move across central Florida and weaken to a tropical storm.
The storm may move back over the Atlantic Ocean before returning to Georgia or South Carolina’s coast as a tropical storm.
More than 2.5 million people were under evacuation orders as of Tuesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has urged residents in the evacuation areas to move to higher ground, saying that they do not need to leave the state but should move to a different location.
The storm has already knocked out Cuba’s entire electrical grid after it hit the island.
The hurricane has gradually slowed down as it approaches Florida, which The Weather Channel reported makes it a more significant threat for storm surge. The peak surge could be up to 12 feet.
The hurricane was located 55 miles west-southwest of Naples and moving at 10 miles per hour as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.