Ian has strengthened into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale as it approaches Florida, forecasters said.
Forecasters warned that Ian has maximum sustained winds of about 155 miles per hour (250 km/h) that can cause life-threatening flooding and sea penetration. A category 5 hurricane has maximum sustained winds of more than 157 mph.
At 7 a.m. Wednesday, Ian was near the west coast of Florida, about 100 km west-southwest of Naples and about 130 km south-southwest of Punta Gorda.
Ian is moving north-northeast at about 17 kilometers per hour. It is expected to make landfall on Wednesday at a point between the vicinity of Cape Coral and Sarasota, cross the peninsula through central Florida between early Wednesday and early Thursday and then out into the Atlantic later Thursday, according to forecasts. dthe National Hurricane Center (NHC), based in Miami.
Authorities issued a hurricane warning for the west coast of Florida, from Chokoloskee to Anclote River, including Tampa Bay and the Dry Tortugas.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the watch area and preparations must be completed quickly to protect life and property.
A storm surge advisory is in place for the Suwannee River south to Flamingo, Tampa Bay, the lower keys from Big Pine Key to Key West, the Dry Tortugas, and the area between Flagler and Volusia counties to the mouth of the St. Mary, authorities said.
A storm surge watch means there is a danger of life-threatening flooding from rising water moving inland from the coast. The storm surge could cause flooding of up to 16 feet along Florida’s southwest coast, from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor, if it coincides with high tide, the NHC reported.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the area from Indian Pass to the Anclote River, all of the Florida Keys, from Flamingo to the Santee River, from Flamingo to Chokoloskee, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, the Bimini Islands to Grand Bahama and the Cuban provinces of Havana, Mayabeque and Matanzas, reported the NHC.
Hurricane-force winds extend out to 40 miles (65 km) from the center of Ian, and tropical-storm-force winds extend out to about 175 miles (280 km). Ian is expected to weaken after making landfall on Wednesday, forecasters said.
the monstrous storm collapsed Cuba’s fragile power grid on Tuesday after passing through the island, leaving it totally in the dark.
In Florida they have ordered the evacuation of some 2.5 million residents before the arrival of Ian and Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the state.
Forecasters are forecasting 12 to 18 inches of rain in central and northern Florida, with local highs up to 24 inches, as well as 6 to 8 inches with local highs of 12 inches for the Florida Keys.
They also warned of possible tornadoes in central and southern Florida on Wednesday.
The airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West remain closed, as well as the Disney World theme parks in Orlando, reported Associated Press.
The Florida electric company, FPL, warned that prolonged service interruptions may occur due to Ian’s passage.
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