Hurricane Ian makes landfall as Category 4 storm in Florida

Hurricane Ian poured down torrential rain and blew 150 mph winds as it roared ashore in southwest Florida on Wednesday afternoon.

The slow-moving storm officially made landfall around Cayo Costa at 3:05 p.m., the National Hurricane Center said. The barrier island is located about 20 miles west of downtown Fort Myers.

This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image, taken at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching Florida's southwest coast.

The worst affected areas were expected to receive 12 inches of rain, while at least a foot was expected to fall in southwest, central and northeast Florida. The water rose to at least 6 feet (2 meters) at a NOAA National Ocean Service station in Fort Myers Wednesday night.

Ian caused a massive storm surge along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Even before landfall, the water reached the top floors of two-story homes in Fort Myers Beach. The combination of high winds and flash floods have torn several houses from their foundationsand sent them to the middle of the flooded streets.

Ian earned his terrifying Category 4 status with his winds, but the rain could be a bigger problem in much of Florida. The storm moved slowly before reaching land. It slowed down even more as it floated over the Gulf Coast from Tampa to Naples, flooding the area with rain.

“Widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flooding, urban and river flooding is expected throughout central Florida,” the National Hurricane Center said in a warning. More than 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate ahead of the storm.

This image from the Naples Fire Department shows a firefighter carrying equipment in the waters of Hurricane Ian's storm surge on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 in Naples, Florida.

Four hours after Ian landed, more than 1.5 million Florida customers were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us. That number was expected to rise as the storm continued its assault. Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility, warned that power recovery would take days in some places.

Hurricane-force winds caused damage from Tampa to Naples and also reached further inland. Ian tore shingles from roofs, started fires with downed power lines and caused at least two small tornadoes. The City of Fort Myers a 48-hour curfew declaredwhich started at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“This is going to be a nasty, nasty day, two days,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday. “This is going to be a tough journey.”

Veteran storm chaser Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel was nearly knocked over by debris while covering the hurricane. He got out of danger just before a torn off street sign flew down the street.

Fort Myers resident Tom Hawver said he planned to ride out the storm at home — then heard about Ian’s winds reaching 255 mph at night. He left for Fort Lauderdale.

“We don’t have a generator,” Hawver said. “I just don’t see the benefit of sitting there in the dark, in a warm house, watching water in your house.”

The storm also created a bizarre scene in Tampa Bay, where the water quickly retreated, giving the impression of calm.

“Do not enter the receding water in Tampa Bay or Charlotte Harbor – the water WILL return through storm surge and pose a life-threatening risk,” the Florida Division of Emergency Management tweeted.

Florida wasn’t the only state concerned about Ian. The storm’s planned path will take to East Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend, prompting the governors of both states to declare preventive states of emergency. While Ian may not regain strength as he heads north, the storm is still expected to dump buckets of rain across the region.

This image from the Naples Fire Rescue Department shows firefighters looking out for the fire truck standing in water from the storm surge from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 in Naples, Florida.

“Ian could be near hurricane strength when it moves over the east coast of Florida tomorrow, and as it approaches the northeast coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina late Friday,” the NHC said.

Important news

Important news

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free email alerts for breaking news.

Before attacking Florida, Ian tore through western Cuba, killing at least two people and cutting off the island’s electrical grid.

In anticipation of the hurricane, President Biden ordered the heads of federal agencies across the federal government to send “all available resources” to Florida’s riskiest regions.

More than 1,300 emergency personnel were sent to Florida prior to the storm. They arrived before airports closed operations in Tampa, Orlando and along the Gulf Coast in preparation for the massacre. There were also an estimated 7,000 National Guard troops, from Florida and elsewhere, in the state.

“This is going to be a storm we’ll be talking about for many years to come,” warned Ken Graham, the director of the National Weather Service. “It’s a dangerous, life-threatening storm surge barrier.”

The FDNY sent 15 members of the Incident Management Team to assist where needed.

The Florida peninsula hadn’t seen a storm since Hurricane Charley made landfall in almost the exact same spot in 2004. However, such storms are increasingly common on the Gulf coast. Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle with 155 mph winds in 2018; Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana with winds of 150 mph in 2020; and Hurricane Ida followed the following year, with the same strength in the same state. Ida later brought record rains and deadly flooding to New York and other cities in the Northeast.

With News Wire Services

Leave a Comment