Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall this afternoon near Fort Myers, Florida with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. That made it the fifth-largest storm to hit the U.S. mainland — at least in recorded history — and the Weather Channel was there to cover it.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore was at ground zero to document the storm’s arrival, a task not without risks.
Cantore was making a live man-on-street report in sustained 61 mph winds — with gusts of 110 mph — when he was blown backwards when a tree branch shot across the street, hitting him in the leg and knocking him over.
Hurricane Ian: Deadline’s full coverage
The footage also gives a sense of how hard Cantore has to struggle to stay in place – much less upright – further evidenced by the street sign being blown down behind him as he grabs another for balance.
Jim Cantore was literally hit by a flying tree branch during a live report. Please get this man off the streets. pic.twitter.com/D6UOizGArc
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) 28 September 2022
In what appears to be a later clip, Cantore has taken refuge on a building balcony, saying: “We’ve come up here for safety from the wave… and where we were earlier, it looks like there’s three or four feet of water. Waves are crashing into the area from earlier this morning.”
He continues, “This is one of the worst hurricanes I’ve ever been in. It might be the worst in covering over 25 years and 90 storms.
“Looks like a North Atlantic storm here in Fort Myers,” says the meteorologist, looking out over the rising muddy water and waves breaking closer and closer to the balcony. “The sea, the river and the bay have taken over everything.”
We’re officially kicking things off.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) 28 September 2022
— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) 28 September 2022
*RARE* first person view of storm surge. This camera is 6 feet off the ground on Estero Blvd in Fort Myers Beach, FL. I’m not sure how long it will keep working. You will only see it live@weatherchannel #Ian pic.twitter.com/WWHtvgVxjY
— Mike Bettes (@mikebettes) 28 September 2022
The storm’s official landfall came at 3:05 PM ET at Cayo Costa, a barrier island outside the bay off Fort Myers. That’s according to the New York Times. The maximum wind speed of 155 mph puts the story just 2 mph below the 157 mph threshold for a cat. 5 storm.
Journalists covering Ian resorted to some unusual headgear to stay safe in the storm.
Charles Peak was also in Fort Myers wearing what appeared to be a softball helmet, while his Weather Channel colleague Stephanie Abrams wore a baseball helmet in Englewood, Florida. Both of these seem like smart solutions given Cantore’s experience.
— Charles Peek (@CharlesPeekWX) 28 September 2022
— brianmacattack1 (@briantmckenzie) 28 September 2022