Hurricane Ian is only two miles per hour from becoming a Category 5 hurricane as it heads toward Florida’s Gulf Coast, where 2.5 million residents have been ordered to evacuate and more than 190,000 lost their strength.
As of 10 a.m., Hurricane Ian was moving toward the Tampa Bay area with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, which is close to the 157 mph threshold for a Category 5 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasts predict that the storm, which is currently 60 miles west of Naples, Florida, will cause 12 to 16-foot flash floods, with “catastrophic wind damage” along Florida’s southwest coast, where it is expected to make landfall on Wednesday. .
More than 2.5 million residents in four counties, including Tampa, St. Petersburg and Fort Myers, have been ordered to evacuate, while schools, hospitals and two major airports in the Tampa Bay area, as well as Orlando International Airport, have announced them. It will be temporarily closed.
Hurricane Ian swept through western Cuba on Tuesday, killing at least two people and causing widespread flooding and power outages across the island. As it nears Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis warned “there will be a lot of ramifications in terms of getting people back on their feet.” More than 193,000 people are without power in Florida, according to PowerOutage.us.
Ian is the first major hurricane to hit the Tampa Bay area since 1921, and will only be the fourth Category 4 or 5 storm to make landfall in Florida, after Michael (2018), Irma (2017), Charlie (2004) and Andrew (1992) .
‘Rapid intensification’: Hurricane Ian could strengthen to a Category 5 storm as it approaches Florida (Forbes)
Hurricane Cat 5 Ian with winds of 155 mph to hit Florida today, made way as far as Orlando (Orlando Sentinel)
7 Reasons Why Hurricane Ian Is Especially Dangerous (Forbes)
In pictures: Hurricane Ian slams Cuba, batters barrels toward Florida – here’s a look at the damage (Forbes)