More than 2 million Florida residents without power as Hurricane Ian moves inland

Hurricane Ian is so powerful that its winds were only a few miles per hour that would not become a Category 5 storm when it came ashore in Florida on Wednesday. And it didn’t take long for it to unleash its wrath on Florida’s power grid.

Ian’s eye began moving on land at Sanibel and Captiva islands around midday Wednesday. Before 2:30 p.m. ET, more than 660,000 people had their power knocked out, according to tracking at poweroutage.us. Just two hours later, the total exceeded 1 million outcomes. Now, after sunset, the number has risen again – bringing the total number of those without power as of 6 p.m. 22.00 to more than 2 million people.

Southwest Florida has borne the brunt of the impact so far. Nearly all residents in several counties, including DeSoto, Charlotte and Lee, are without power as of Wednesday night. At least half of all residents in several other neighboring counties, including Manatee, Sarasota, Collier, Highlands and Glades, are without power, according to poweroutage.us.

Reports of outages continue to stretch north along the Gulf Coast, with major disruptions as far north as Citrus County. Smaller disturbances continue to creep towards the pan handle.

Areas along Florida’s east coast are also experiencing outages. Miami-Dade has been hit hard by power outages, but has seen steady restoration throughout the day. Outages are also seen further inland and have been detected in every county on the state’s east coast.

Florida officials have been warning for days about the potential power problems. Ian has been relentless on the trail, extends power to all of Cuba when it hit the island on Tuesday, although some areas have since been restored.

The National Weather Service warned ahead of landfall that Hurricane Ian would cause “catastrophic” wind damage to southwest Florida. The service’s director, Ken Graham, said during a press briefing Wednesday that the storm will take 24 hours to complete its journey across the state after the eye makes landfall.

“This is going to be a storm that we’ll be talking about for years to come,” he said.

Florida Power & Light, the main supplier of the homes reporting power outages, tweeted Wednesday that the company expects “widespread, extended” outages. Of its more than 5.7 million tracked customers through PowerOutage.us, more than 1 million have reportedly lost power.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Wednesday that more than 30,000 linemen are “staged and ready” to help restore power when it is safe to do so. Gov. Ron DeSantis said later in the day that the number had risen to 42,000.

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