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Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida

Satellite image showing a sunrise over a hurricane.
Sunrise over Hurricane Ian, September 28, 2022. Image via NOAA/ GOES satellite.

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall near Sanibel, Florida, this afternoon as an intense category four storm with winds up to 155 miles per hour (mph). Moreover, devastating storm surge up to 18 feet in depth was measured in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, Florida. People are reporting widespread power outages through central Florida. These could last for weeks in the worst-hit areas. In addition, wind gusts over 170 mph were directly measured along the coastline as Ian’s eyewall raked the coast early Wednesday afternoon.

Ian’s impact on Florida’s West Coast

As of now, strong winds and an incredible storm surge are already impacting the Florida Gulf Coast. As a result, homes are floating off foundations in Fort Myers Beach.

Likewise, the Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel found himself in the eyewall of the hurricane.

Hurricane Ian is a historic storm

Ian is, in fact, now unofficially ranked as the 5th strongest storm to ever make landfall in the United States. Formerly, only four storms have made landfall with winds greater than 155 mph. These include Hurricane Andrew and the great Labor Day storm of 1935.

Ian’s storm surge

Storm surge rushed into Charlotte Harbor and the Fort Meyers area as Ian’s eyewall raked the region. Incredibly, water came up out of the bays and inlets as high as 18 feet above normal sea level.

Rainfall forecast

Additionally, rainfall is a serious concern as Ian slowly moves over Florida through the coming days. With this in mind, the Weather Prediction Center issued a rare high risk for catastrophic freshwater flooding. Presently, current rainfall forecasts call for an additional 20-30 inches of rain from Tampa to Orlando. Indeed, some weather models indicate that pockets of 40 inches or more of rainfall are possible in localized areas. This kind of exceptional rainfall will lead to life-threatening flooding well inland of the landfall point of Ian. In addition, heavy rain is also possible into Georgia and the Carolinas through the coming days. It is forecast that three to five inches of rain could bring localized flash flooding.

Second landfall for Hurricane Ian?

Hurricane Ian will likely remain a powerful storm through the Wednesday evening and into Thursday. At the present time, current forecasts say that Ian will exit Florida as a weakened tropical storm, but reemerge over the Atlantic ocean. Subsequently, Georgia and South Carolina are next in the forecast path. Hurricane watches have been posted for both states. Later, Ian could make a second landfall as a tropical storm or low-end hurricane on Friday morning. This could bring heavy wind and rain to places like Savannah, Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Presently, three to five feet of storm surge is also forecasted along the southeastern US coastline.

Category four storm

As an illustration, a category five hurricane has winds of 157 mph or higher. Ian was, notably, only two mph away from becoming a category five hurricane. In this case, Ian intensified as it moved over a large fuel source, the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bottom line: Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sanibel Island, Florida, on the afternoon of September 28, 2022. Forecasters are using words like “catastrophic” and “historic.”

Read more: What is a hurricane storm surge?

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