- Ian will now enter the Atlantic as a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane.
- Wind damage will be possible and flooding rainfall is a major threat.
- Storms surge remains likely on the Southeast Coast on Thursday.
- Storm surge and tropical storm alerts also extend to Georgia and the Carolinas.
Hurricane Ian is now moving through Central Florida after making landfall as one of southwest Florida’s most intense hurricanes on record. It is expected to produce storm surge, destructive winds and flooding rainfall through Friday.
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Ian is now losing strength over eastern Florida and the Atlantic coast.
Water levels in Southwest Florida are decreasing after breaking several records for all-time high storm surge in spots like Naples and Fort Myers.
Extreme rainfall is also causing flooding. More than a foot of rainfall has occurred in several Southwest Florida counties. Hunker down in the lowest dry floor of the structure you are in.
Winds are rapidly calming, but gusts on Wednesday were impressive. The highest wind gust recorded so far is 140 mph in Cape Coral, Florida. Sustained winds have been reported as high as 92 mph, also in Cape Coral. The highest sustained winds reported were 115 mph at a private weather station near Port Charlotte, Florida. That station also recorded a wind gust of 132 mph.
Here’s a look at the latest radar and wind gusts:
Current Watches, Warnings
Hurricane warnings (shaded in purple in the map below) now stretch across the Florida Peninsula from southwest to central to Florida’s Space Coast, including Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Orlando and Daytona Beach. This means hurricane conditions are expected.
A storm surge warning is also in effect along much of Florida’s west coast, from the mouth of the Suwanee River to the Everglades, including Tampa Bay, and also on the Atlantic side from the Flagler-Volusia County line in northeast Florida to the entire Georgia coast to Charleston County, South Carolina, including Florida’s St. Johns River. This means life-threatening flooding from rising water moving inland from the coastline is expected.
A hurricane watch extends from northeast Florida’s coast to Charleston County, South Carolina, where hurricane conditions are possible.
Tropical storm warnings continue north of Boca Raton in southern Florida and from the Florida Big Bend to northeastern Florida and coastal parts of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Tropical storm watches have been issued for much of eastern Georgia and South Carolina away from the coast. Tropical storm conditions could begin here by Friday morning.
Forecast Path, Intensity
Ian’s center will now move north-northeastward across East-Central Florida.
It may make it to the Atlantic coast at near hurricane intensity, but will eventually weaken to a tropical storm. Ian will likely emerge over the Atlantic waters Thursday before turning back toward the Georgia or South Carolina coasts as a tropical storm or low-end hurricane Friday and Friday night.
Storm surge will begin to recede in Southwest Florida through Thursday, while water levels will rise in the Tampa Bay region and on the Atlantic coast of northern Florida and Georgia.
The map below shows possible peak storm surge inundation, if that happens at the time of high tide, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Storm surge is expected to cause flooding on the Atlantic side of northeast Florida and into coastal Georgia and South Carolina beginning Thursday. Given the wind direction out of the northeast as this may occur, the St. Johns River in northeast Florida may back up and flood.
Due to persistent onshore winds even as Ian’s center moves farther away, coastal flooding may last for some time beyond the peak storm surge into Friday or even early Saturday along the areas shown below along the Atlantic Southeast coast.
Structural damage is possible through Thursday in Central and East Florida near where the core of Ian tracks.
Power outages and downed trees are likely in areas under hurricane and tropical storm warnings. Those outages could last for days or weeks in locations that see the highest winds.
The map below shows where sustained tropical storm and hurricane force winds are ongoing as of the latest National Hurricane Center advisory.
Heavy rainfall is another dangerous threat from the Florida Peninsula into portions of the Southeast through the weekend.
Here’s the latest rainfall forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
-Central and Northeast Florida: 12 to 20 inches, with locally up to 30 inches.
-Coastal Georgia and the Low Country of South Carolina: 4 to 8 inches, with locally up to 12 inches.
-Upstate and Central South Carolina, North Carolina and southern Virginia: 3 to 6 inches, with locally up to 8 inches.
This heavy rain is likely to trigger dangerous flash flooding in parts of northeast Florida, especially in urban areas, along with river flooding that is likely to last for days after Ian is over.
Additional locally heavy rain and flash flooding is possible this weekend as Ian or its remnant pivots into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states, particularly in mountainous terrain.
Check back with us at weather.com for the very latest on this developing situation.
Hurricane Ian History and Statistics
Ian’s beginnings come from a tropical wave in the Atlantic that fought hard against dry air and wind shear caused by Hurricane Fiona, but eventually, it became a major hurricane near western Cuba before bringing its monstrous winds and storm surge to Florida.
Ian Makes Landfall
The eye of Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa around 3:05 p.m. EDT. Maximum sustained winds were estimated to be near 150 mph, making it a strong Category 4.
This is the exact same point where Hurricane Charley made landfall in 2004 as a Category 4. Both hurricanes had winds of 150 mph at landfall.
Hurricane Ian made a second landfall at 4:35 p.m. in Pirate Harbor, or just south of Punta Gorda, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.
This landfall is tied for the 4th strongest landfall for a hurricane in Florida, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach.
The backside of Ian’s wrath continued to produce additional surge and wind damage in Southwest Florida for hours after landfall.
Winds have gusted from 40 to 80 mph in Key West Tuesday into early Wednesday, where Ian also produced the third highest storm surge in over 100 years.
Winds gusted over 100 mph in Punta Gorda, Florida, for 30 minutes in the 4 p.m. hour on Sept. 28 and continued to report wind gusts over 100 mph into the evening.
Here are some of the most significant gusts:
Additionally, winds gusted to 126 mph at Redfish Pass, 112 mph at the Naples Grande Beach Resort, and 107 mph near Sanibel Island. Gusts over 40 mph have been clocked on the Atlantic side, including a 54 mph gust at Cape Canaveral. Street flooding was reported in Stuart, about 100 miles north of Miami.
Storm surge flooded many cities in Southwest Florida, including in Naples, Florida, where over 6 feet of storm surge inundation has been measured, more than any other storm at that gauge location in at least 50 years. The tidal gauge there has since broken.
Water levels are reaching the top of the first floor of homes in Fort Myers Beach during the eye of Hurricane Ian. This tweet shows the vantage point from the second floor in Fort Myers Beach:
In Fort Myers proper, however, storm surge was over 7 feet with high tide this evening. Previously the highest storm surge was 3.36 feet MHHW during Hurricane Gabrielle in 2001.
Meanwhile, winds are blowing offshore producing a blowout tide in Tampa Bay. Water levels are around 8 feet below average near the Port of Tampa and many parts of Tampa Bay were dry for much of Wednesday.
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