Hurricane Ian’s “extremely dangerous” eyewall is moving ashore in southwest Florida

Hurricane Ian’s “extremely dangerous” eyewall made landfall in southwest Florida late Wednesday morning, just hours after it strengthened into a Category 4 storm. It packed sustained winds of 155 mph — making it just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, which is the most powerful storm possible.

Ian is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon before moving across central Florida late Wednesday and Thursday, according to forecasters.

“Ian will soon cause catastrophic storm surges, winds and flooding on the Florida peninsula,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 9 p.m. announcement. 11 a.m.

About 2.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders as the hurricane began lashing the Florida peninsula with heavy rain and tropical storm force winds in the early hours of Wednesday. The strengthening of the storm overnight was “really, really significant,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference. And emergency management directors in Southwest Florida were preparing for — and expecting — a Category 5 hurricane, said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“This is going to be an ugly, ugly day — two days,” DeSantis said.

Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg was among the cities bracing for the worst of the storm, but the latest forecasts suggested Ian would make landfall a little further south, with Ft. The Myers region is at risk of a possible direct hit. Given the size and strength of the hurricane and the storm surge it is expected to push into coastal areas, officials were aware that much of Florida remained at risk.

Life-threatening impacts are expected and power outages are occurring.

Ian tore across western Cuba on Tuesday with sustained winds of up to 125 mph. Damage from the storm knocked Cuba’s power grid offlineand leaves the whole country in the dark on Wednesday morning.


The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore on Hurricane Ian’s path

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