In the early morning hours Wednesday, Hurricane Ian severely intensified. It went from wind speeds of 120 MPH to 155 MPH, just shy of the 157 MPH threshold for Category 5. Hurricane Ian is projected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, said in a press conference Wednesday morning that it was no longer safe to evacuate as time is running out.
Hurricane Ian is setting a catastrophic stage with storm surges predicted to be between 10 and 16 feet. Ian is now tracking further south than Tuesday’s projected path. Originally projected for Tampa, Ian will now likely intercept closer to Ft. Myers. Ian has already crossed over Cuba where the storm knocked out the electrical grid for all of the island. After crossing Cuba, the storm slowed in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing it to gain more momentum and strengthen and widen. The outer bands are already lashing the state, felt in the Florida Keys and coastal cities.
According to Colorado State University tropical scientist Phil Klotzbach, only four hurricanes on record have made landfall in the continental U.S. that were stronger than Hurricane Ian. Those hurricanes were Labor Day in 1935, Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992, and Michael in 2018. The vast strength of Ian is historic and is projected to be one of the costliest clean-up efforts at $70 billion dollars worth in predicted damages. As Hurricane Ian teeters on the verge of becoming a Category 5, the storm is projected to devastate the Sunshine State.