Hurricane Ian Path Update: Ian Nearly a Category 5 Hurricane as Landfall Nears in Florida
Hurricane Ian had 155 mph winds on Wednesday as it closed in on the Florida peninsula. Ian may not weaken before making landfall and will bring catastrophic damage to the Sunshine State.
Updated 9-28-22 | AL.com
HURRICANE UPDATE - Hurricane Ian explosively strengthened on Wednesday afternoon and was nearly a Category 5 hurricane with 155 mph winds as the eye of the storm began to move onshore in southwest Florida.
Category 5 winds begin at 157 mph.
The National Hurricane Center said the eye wall of the storm was moving onshore as of noon CDT and will cause “catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding” for southwest Florida.
Ian is not expected to weaken much, if at all, before it moves inland today.
Storm surge projections have been increased, and areas along the coast could now see potentially up to 18 feet of surge from Ian.
As of noon, CDT the center of Hurricane Ian was located about 35 miles west-southwest of Fort Myers, Fla., or about 45 miles southwest of Punta Gorda, and was tracking north-northeast at 9 mph.
Ian was a top-end Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 mph, the hurricane center said.
“Catastrophic wind damage is expected along the southwestern coast of Florida beginning in the next few hours where the core of Ian makes landfall,” the hurricane center said Wednesday. “Preparations to protect life and property should be urgently rushed to completion.”
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center of Ian, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.
Hurricane warnings stretched up the west coast of the Florida peninsula -- and have been added for part of the east coast as well.
The hurricane center said that on the forecast track the center of Ian will make landfall in the next few hours, then track over central Florida tonight and Thursday. It could emerge into the western Atlantic by late Thursday.
It could still be a hurricane at that point, forecasters said. Ian could weaken after landfall, but still be near hurricane strength when it moves over the Florida East coast tomorrow, and when it approaches the northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts late Friday, the hurricane center said.
Ian could bring a devastating 12 to 18 feet of storm surge to the southwest coast of Florida somewhere from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor.
Areas in southwest Florida could get up to 18 feet of storm surge from Ian, which would be catastrophic.
The updated surge projections:
* From Englewood to Bonita Beach...12-18 feet
* Charlotte Harbor...12-18 feet
* From Bonita Beach to Chokoloskee...8-12 feet
* From Chokoloskee to East Cape Sable...5-8 feet
Ian could also bring trouble for the Atlantic coast of Florida, and tropical storm warnings stretched from east Florida all the way northward into South Carolina on Wednesday.
Here are the watches and warnings as of Wednesday:
* A hurricane warning continues for Florida from Chokoloskee to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay and, the Dry Tortugas, and on the east coast from Sebastian Inlet to Flagler/Volusia County Line.
* A storm surge warning is in effect from the Suwannee River southward to Flamingo, Tampa Bay, the Lower Florida Keys from Big Pine Key westward to Key West, the Dry Tortugas, from Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the South Santee River and the St. Johns River.
* A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque and Matanzas, in Florida from Indian Pass to Sebastian Inlet, all of the Florida Keys, from the Flagler/Volusia County Line to Little River Inlet, from Flamingo to Chokoloskee, Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, Bimini and Grand Bahama Islands.
* A storm surge watch is in effect for the Florida Keys from the Card Sound Bridge westward to east of Big Pine Key, Florida Bay and the mouth of St. Mary’s River to South Santee River.
* A hurricane watch is now in effect from the Flagler/Volusia County Line to the South Santee River and Lake Okeechobee.
In addition to the storm surge, Ian could bring widespread inland flooding to Florida.
Some areas could get as much as 2 feet of rain as Ian moves across the peninsula.
The hurricane center said “widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flash, urban, and river flooding is expected” across southern and central Florida over the next few days.
Here are some of the forecast rainfall amounts:
* Florida Keys and South Florida: 6 to 8 inches, with local amounts up to 12 inches.
* Central and northeast Florida: 12 to 18 inches, with local amounts up to 24 inches.
* Eastern Georgia and Coastal South Carolina: 4 to 8 inches, with local amounts of 12 inches.