Disasters & Accidents

Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida as dangerous Category 4 hurricane

Miami, Sep 28 (EFE).- Ian, an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour, made landfall Wednesday afternoon near Cayo Costa, a barrier island in southwest Florida, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

In its latest public advisory at 2 pm, 65 minutes before the center of Ian moved over land, the NHC said the hurricane, whose strength was nearly the maximum Category 5 at landfall, was causing catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula as it moved to the north-northeast at 15 km/h.

It added that a combination of storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

According to the NHC, the water could reach up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) above ground over a sizable stretch of the southwest coast of Florida, from Englewood to Bonita Springs.

The eye of Ian was located then about 75 km northwest of the city of Naples and 80 km southwest of the city of Punta Gorda, which is currently taking a direct hit from the powerful hurricane.

Catastrophic wind damage is likely where the core of Ian has moved ashore, while rainfall of up to 46 centimeters (18 inches) is expected to cause “widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flash, urban, and river flooding” across central Florida.

Ian is forecast to move inland over the center of the state on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday.

The hurricane is then projected to turn northward on Friday and approach the northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts late Friday.

Although it is expected to weaken fairly quickly after landfall, Ian could be close to hurricane strength – with maximum sustained winds of around 119 km/h – as it moves over Florida’s east coast on Thursday.

The region where Ian made landfall is obviously bearing the brunt of Ian, but practically all of Florida is being affected by the massive hurricane.

Last Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of the state’s 67 counties.

Florida officials also issued mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders in 18 counties ahead of Ian.

Shelters were filled to capacity and closed in the impact area at the time Ian made landfall, with thousands of people having opted to leave coastal areas and move inland to protect their lives.

Hours before Ian’s arrival, DeSantis said it was no longer possible for people to safely evacuate.

“Do what you need to do to stay safe. If you are where that storm is approaching, you’re already in hazardous conditions. It’s going to get a lot worse very quickly. So please hunker down,” he said. EFE


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