Hurricane Ian latest updates: 2 million in Florida lose power as storm moves inland – live

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Hurricane Ian latest updates: 2 million in Florida lose power as storm moves inland – live

The full extent of damage from Hurricane Ian is likely to remain unknown for some hours, with power and communications disrupted in many areas and some emergency responders forced to wait for the return of daylight and safer conditions before beginning a full search and rescue operation.

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This blog will now pause, but at 2am Florida time, this is what we know.

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  • Ian has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it moves inland but continues to lash the state with torrential rain, with the National Hurricane Centre warning of catastrophic flooding across central Florida.

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  • The storm surge flooded a hospital’s lower level emergency room in Port Charlotte, while fierce winds tore part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care unit, forcing staff to move the hospital’s sickest patients to other floors.

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  • In coastal Florida, desperate people posted to Facebook and other social sites, pleading for rescue for themselves or loved ones, the Associated Press reported. Some video showed debris-covered water sloshing toward homes’ eaves. A coastal sheriff’s office reported that it was getting many calls from people trapped in flooded homes.

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  • An estimated 2.2 million customers in Florida are without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.

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  • Seven people had survived after a boat carrying migrants from Cuba sank near the Florida Keys, officials said, but rescue crews were still searching for an additional twenty people, the Associated Press reported.

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  • A Weather Channel meteorologist who has covered more than 90 storms in his career said that he had experienced nothing like Hurricane Ian in over 30 years.

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  • The governors of Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all preemptively declared states of emergency, the Associated Press reported.

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You can read our full report here

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As it passes 1am in Florida, the full extent of damage from Hurricane Ian is likely to remain unknown for some hours, with power and communications disrupted in many areas and some emergency responders forced to wait for the return of daylight and safer conditions before beginning a full search and rescue operation.

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While no deaths have yet been reported in the US, Ian killed two people in Cuba and a boat carrying 23 Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.

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The storm was one of the strongest to ever hit the US when it slammed into the Florida coast as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 150mph winds and a deadly storm surge of up to 18ft.

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Winds have since dropped to about 90mph, but the National Hurricane Centre has warned that torrential rains pose risks of catastrophic flooding across central Florida. Storm surges may hit the east coast of the state on Thursday morning as Ian passes over and turns north to threaten Georgia and South Carolina.

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The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, said earlier on Wednesday that Ian would leave a permanent mark on Florida.

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“Pray for people,” DeSantis told reporters. “There’s some storms that really leave an indelible impact … this is going to be one of those historic storms and it’s going to shape the communities in south-west Florida and have a profound impact on our state.

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“This is going to be a rough stretch. So we just ask people for their thoughts and their prayers. This is a major, major storm.”

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extent of damage still unknown”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Thu 29 Sep 2022 02.21 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Wed 28 Sep 2022 09.30 EDT”},{“id”:”633506338f086841b84c4255″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The storm has left more than 2 million people without power, according to Poweroutage.us. The site shows that in Charlotte and DeSoto counties nearly all households were without electricity, while Sarasota and Lee counties were also hard hit.

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In Charlotte county, just north of Fort Myers, the sheriff’s office has imposed a curfew from 9pm-6am, while in Lee county all residents have been told to boil water for at least one minute before drinking.

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Here’s the evening update on how Florida residents are enduring Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US.

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  • In coastal Florida, desperate people posted to Facebook and other social sites, pleading for rescue for themselves or loved ones, the Associated Press reported. Some video showed debris-covered water sloshing toward homes’ eaves. A coastal sheriff’s office reported that it was getting many calls from people trapped in flooded homes.

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  • An estimated 1.9 million customers in Florida were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.

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  • Seven people had survived after a boat carrying migrants from Cuba sank near the Florida Keys, officials said, but rescue crews were still searching for an additional twenty people, the Associated Press reported.

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  • A Weather Channel meteorologist who has covered more than 90 storms in his career said that he had experienced nothing like Hurricane Ian in over 30 years.

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  • The governors of Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all preemptively declared states of emergency, the Associated Press reported. Forecasters predicted Ian will turn toward those states as a tropical storm, likely dumping more flooding rains into the weekend, after crossing Florida.

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My colleagues in Australia will be picking up live coverage for the next few hours, so you can continue to follow along here.

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As a category 4 storm slams the coast of Florida, nearly every home and business in three counties was without power, the Associated Press reports:

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  • In all, more than 1.8m Florida homes and businesses were without electricity.

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  • In Naples, the first floor of a fire station was inundated with about 3 ft (1 meter) of water and firefighters worked to salvage gear from a firetruck stuck outside the garage in even deeper water, a video posted by the Naples fire department showed.

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  • News anchors at Fort Myers television station WINK had to abandon their usual desk and continue storm coverage from another location in their newsroom because water was pushing into their building.

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  • Flash floods were possible all across Florida. Hazards include the polluted leftovers of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, more than 1 bn tons of slightly radioactive waste contained in enormous ponds that could overflow in heavy rains.

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Ian’s strength at landfall tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane when measured by wind speed to strike the US. Among the other storms was Hurricane Charley, which hit nearly the same spot on Florida’s coast in August 2004, killing 10 people and inflicting $14bn in damage.

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Over 1 million Florida residents are without power, according to PowerOutage.us.

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As of 5.27pm ET, 1,295,261 residents in Florida are going through power outages. Charlotte county is currently the hardest hit, with 96.61% of its residents without power. Out of the 127,498 customers tracked, 123,178 are out.

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The second hardest hit county is Lee county, with 85.45% of the customers without power, or 403,161 out of 471,806 customers who are tracked.

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The US Coast Guard has initiated a search on Wednesday for 23 people who tried to cross the Florida Straits in the midst of Hurricane Ian.

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According to border patrol agents, four migrants swam to shore on Stock Island in the Lower Keys around 7am on Wednesday, the Miami Herald reports.

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In a statement to the outlet, Coast Guard spokeswoman petty officer Nicole Groll said the group told border patrol agents that they were with 23 other individuals on a boat, including a group of Cuban migrants. The boat sank in the storm, she added.

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“Our crews took a calculated risk to brave the tropical storm force winds going through the Keys on the chance of people being alive in the water and being able to bring them home,” said Groll.

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More than 7% of residents across Florida are currently without power.

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According to PowerOutage.us, 7.3% of Floridians are left without power as of 3.56pm ET on Wednesday afternoon. With Hurricane Ian making landfall earlier this afternoon, the numbers are expected to change.

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Counties that have been hardest hit include Lee county, which is currently experiencing an outage rate of 62.61%, or 295,394 out of 471,806 tracked customers who are without power.

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Collier county is currently experiencing an outage rate of 49.17%. Out of the 262,833 customers tracked, 129,224 are without power.

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The majority of those who are without power are Florida Power & Light customers.

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Hurricane Ian has made landfall near Cayo Costa along the south-western coast of Florida.

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“NOAA Doppler radar imagery indicates that the eye of Ian made landfall along the southwestern coast of Florida near Cayo Costa around 305 PM EDT,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement.

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The category 4 hurricane’s maximum sustained winds were estimated to be close to 150mph, or 240km/h, said the agency.

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It’s 11am eastern time, and the National Hurricane Center has just released its latest advisory on Hurricane Ian.

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The category 4 storm’s “extremely dangerous eyewall” is “moving onshore”, the NHC says, and “will cause catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula soon”.

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The official landfall is not declared until the center of the storm reaches land, which will happen in the coming few hours.

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The cities of Fort Myers, Port Charlotte and Cape Coral lie directly in Ian’s path, with effects stretching for hundreds of miles along the Florida coast either side and inland.

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“Ian is expected to make landfall in southwestern Florida in the next few hours as a catastrophic hurricane,” the NHC says, repeating its warnings of a storm surge up to 18ft, and winds of 155mph at landfall.

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You can follow the latest storm track models and hurricane center’s predictions at their website here.

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Joe Biden is warning gas and oil companies not to use Hurricane Ian as an excuse for price gouging.

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Speaking in Washington DC at the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health, the president also said he’d spoken with Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis and made “an absolute commitment” of federal resources to help the state during and after the storm:

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I made it clear to the governor and the mayors that the federal government is ready to help in every single way possible.

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When the storm passes, the federal government will be there to help you recover, we’ll be there to help you clean up and rebuild to help get Florida get moving. We’ll be there at every step of the way. That’s my absolute commitment to the people in the state of Florida.

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Biden delivers a warning to energy companies at the White House on Wednesday.”,”caption”:”Joe Biden delivers a warning to energy companies at the White House on Wednesday.”,”credit”:”Photograph: Kevin 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Biden has approved DeSantis’s request for a federal emergency declaration and set aside, temporarily at least, bitter political differences between two men who could be rivals for the presidency in 2024.

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He said hundreds of Fema (Federal Emergency Management Agency) personnel, thousands of National Guard members and teams of search and rescue teams had been deployed from federal agencies:

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n

They’re already on the ground and ready to help as we speak. Fema has requisitioned literally millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of generators. We have a scheduled everything we can possibly do.

n

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He closed his remarks with the warning to energy companies:

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n

This warning is to the oil and gas industry executives. Do not, let me repeat, do not use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices and gouge the American people.

n

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Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis says Hurricane Ian is an historic storm that’s going to leave “an indelible mark” on the state.

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He’s just been speaking at a press conference in Lake City as the storm edged closer to Florida’s south west coastline:

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n

Pray for people. This is a major, major storm.

n

There’s some storms that really leave an indelible impact… this is going to be one of those historic storms and it’s going to shape the communities in south west Florida and have a profound impact on our state.

n

So we just ask people for their thoughts and their prayers.

n

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DeSantis said Florida had coped with numerous storms in the past, and would deal with this one and move on.

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n

It’s never fun to have damage. It’s never fun to see flooding. It’s never fun to see power interrupted. But you kind of deal with it. And then you move forward.

n

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About 30,000 electricity linemen, numerous urban search and rescue teams and 7,000 National Guard troops from Florida and elsewhere are ready to help once the weather clears, the governor said:

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n

The assets we have are unprecedented in the state’s history and, unfortunately, they’ll need to be deployed.

n

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One of the mantras of major hurricanes is that you can shelter from the wind – which is up to 155mph in the case of Hurricane Ian – but you can’t hide from the water. Officials fear the storm surge of up to 18ft, predicted by the National Hurricane Center in Florida, will be deadly.

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Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) has just been on CNN to explain the risk:

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n

This is going to be a catastrophic impact, and not just where we’re going to see the storm make landfall.

n

We’re really concerned about all of the inland flooding because it’s bringing with it a lot of rain and it’s going to move slowly, which means people in the path are going to experience the impacts for a long period of time.

n

My biggest concerns is the water, the storm surge and flooding. Water is one of the leading causes of death, direct fatalities, in these storms.

n

We know that a lot of people have evacuated but we also know there’s people that haven’t.

n

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Criswell says a “robust search and rescue capability” of teams from several emergency response agencies including firefighters and the US coast guard has been assembled, and is stationed in Miami, on Florida’s south-east coast.

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They will go in when it’s safe to do so, which might be before the storm has fully passed, she says:

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n

As the storm moves, and as it’s safe for our search and rescue teams to go in, they’ll start searching those areas to see and assess damage, but most importantly look for people that may need help getting out of the area.

n

But just because they’re out doesn’t mean that individuals should be out. They need to stay put until the storm completely passes. And then when they do go out they need to be really cautious.

n

So many dangers that are going to be out there, with the flooding, the water, the downed power lines.

n

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Key events

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This live blog is now closed. All the latest updates on hurricane Ian will be in our new blog:

Summary

The full extent of damage from Hurricane Ian is likely to remain unknown for some hours, with power and communications disrupted in many areas and some emergency responders forced to wait for the return of daylight and safer conditions before beginning a full search and rescue operation.

This blog will now pause, but at 2am Florida time, this is what we know.

  • Ian has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it moves inland but continues to lash the state with torrential rain, with the National Hurricane Centre warning of catastrophic flooding across central Florida.

  • The storm surge flooded a hospital’s lower level emergency room in Port Charlotte, while fierce winds tore part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care unit, forcing staff to move the hospital’s sickest patients to other floors.

  • In coastal Florida, desperate people posted to Facebook and other social sites, pleading for rescue for themselves or loved ones, the Associated Press reported. Some video showed debris-covered water sloshing toward homes’ eaves. A coastal sheriff’s office reported that it was getting many calls from people trapped in flooded homes.

  • An estimated 2.2 million customers in Florida are without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us.

  • Seven people had survived after a boat carrying migrants from Cuba sank near the Florida Keys, officials said, but rescue crews were still searching for an additional twenty people, the Associated Press reported.

  • A Weather Channel meteorologist who has covered more than 90 storms in his career said that he had experienced nothing like Hurricane Ian in over 30 years.

  • The governors of Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all preemptively declared states of emergency, the Associated Press reported.

You can read our full report here

Flood risks remain as Ian moves inland

Ian has continued to weaken as it moves inland, with wind speeds dropping to 75mph, but the risk of deadly flooding and storm surges remains. In its 2am update, the National Hurricane Centre said the storm was continuing to move across Florida and was expected to reach the east coast later on Thursday.

Half the streets in Naples in south-west Florida have been rendered impassable by flooding. The Collier county administration has urged people not to drive to or around the city.

Per the City of Naples: Please do not drive in or to the City of Naples. Half of the streets are not passable due to high water and tides may raise the water level further. Please abide by the curfew that is currently in effect. #CollierCounty #HurricaneIan pic.twitter.com/w15PPQnfjn

— Collier County Government (@CollierGov) September 29, 2022

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More than 2.2 million now without power

There are now more than 2.2 million Florida residents without electricity as the storm moves inland.

The Poweroutages.us website, which tracks blackouts across the US, shows that Okeechobee county in central Florida is the latest to be affected, with nearly three-quarters of customers losing power.

Full extent of damage still unknown

As it passes 1am in Florida, the full extent of damage from Hurricane Ian is likely to remain unknown for some hours, with power and communications disrupted in many areas and some emergency responders forced to wait for the return of daylight and safer conditions before beginning a full search and rescue operation.

While no deaths have yet been reported in the US, Ian killed two people in Cuba and a boat carrying 23 Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.

The storm was one of the strongest to ever hit the US when it slammed into the Florida coast as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 150mph winds and a deadly storm surge of up to 18ft.

Winds have since dropped to about 90mph, but the National Hurricane Centre has warned that torrential rains pose risks of catastrophic flooding across central Florida. Storm surges may hit the east coast of the state on Thursday morning as Ian passes over and turns north to threaten Georgia and South Carolina.

The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, said earlier on Wednesday that Ian would leave a permanent mark on Florida.

“Pray for people,” DeSantis told reporters. “There’s some storms that really leave an indelible impact … this is going to be one of those historic storms and it’s going to shape the communities in south-west Florida and have a profound impact on our state.

“This is going to be a rough stretch. So we just ask people for their thoughts and their prayers. This is a major, major storm.”

Two people stand next to fallen tree in darkness
A fallen tree outside a Cape Coral home on Wednesday night. Photograph: Douglas R Clifford/AP

All flights to and from Jacksonville airport on Thursday have been cancelled.

All flights tomorrow are cancelled and the airport terminal is closed. Contact your airline for rebooking options. pic.twitter.com/dACEMgaDiS

— JAXairport (@JAXairport) September 29, 2022

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Hospital flooded as winds partially tear roof from ICU

The storm surge has flooded a hospital’s lower level emergency room in Port Charlotte, while fierce winds tore part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care unit, a doctor who works there told AP.

Water gushed down from above onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients – some of whom were on ventilators – to other floors, said Dr Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Staff members used towels and plastic bins to try to mop up the sodden mess.

The medium-sized hospital spans four floors, but patients were forced into just two because of the damage. Bodine planned to spend the night at the hospital in case people injured from the storm arrive there needing help.

“The ambulances may be coming soon and we don’t know where to put them in the hospital at this point because we’re doubled and tripled up,” she said. “As long as our patients do OK and nobody ends up dying or having a bad outcome, that’s what matters.”

National Hurricane Centre update

In its 11pm update the National Hurricane Centre said Hurricane Ian was expected to move across central Florida overnight, bringing the risk of catastrophic flooding and damaging winds, before emerging over the western Atlantic late on Thursday and turning north towards the north-eastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

The centre said that winds had weakened to 90 mph, making it a Category 1 storm, but Ian was still forecast to be at near hurricane-force when it moved over the east coast of Florida on Thursday morning. The storm is expected to bring between 12 and 20 inches of rain to central Florida, with the risk of “widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flash and urban flooding”.

Nasa’s GOES-16 satellite captured this startling footage of intense lightning flickering around the eye of the storm.

Lightning crackles around eye of Hurricane Ian – video

More than 2 million without power

The storm has left more than 2 million people without power, according to Poweroutage.us. The site shows that in Charlotte and DeSoto counties nearly all households were without electricity, while Sarasota and Lee counties were also hard hit.

In Charlotte county, just north of Fort Myers, the sheriff’s office has imposed a curfew from 9pm-6am, while in Lee county all residents have been told to boil water for at least one minute before drinking.

Ian now a Category 2 storm

Hours after making landfall, Hurricane Ian’s top sustained winds had dropped to 105 mph (170 km/h), making it a Category 2 storm, AP reports.

Ian is expected to weaken further to a tropical storm as it marches inland at about 9 mph (14 km/h). Still, storm surges as high as 6 feet (2 meters) were expected on the opposite side of the state, in north-east Florida. More than 2 million people are now without power, according to Poweroutage.us.

Satellite imagery shows Ian’s progress

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tweeted this footage of Ian’s devastating arrival on the Florida coast.

TROPICAL UPDATE: Latest imagery from @NOAA's #GOES16🛰️as #Hurricane #Ian remains a major Category 3 hurricane as of 8 pm EDT tonight. Get the latest: https://t.co/tVU2sBnFSx #FLwx https://t.co/MgbKiuDSWv pic.twitter.com/pRsW1wn3qa

— NOAA Satellites – Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) September 29, 2022

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