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Ian shy of Category 5 hurricane approaching Florida

st.petersburg, floridaHurricane Ian Strong winds of 155 mph (250 kph) blew off the southwest coast of Florida Wednesday morning, far from the most dangerous Category 5 conditions. hit the Gulf of Mexico, Naples to Sarasota Areas at “highest risk” for devastating storm surges.

US Air Force Hurricane Hunter Confirms Ian Powered by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico After hitting Cuba, the country’s power grid went down and the entire island lost power. Ian was circling 10 miles per hour (17 kilometers) toward the coast, centered about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west-southwest of Naples at 7:00 am.

The massive storm appeared to hit Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast, some 125 miles (201 kilometers) south of Tampa, somewhere north of Fort Myers, sparing the Gulf region a rare direct hit from the hurricane. . The Fort Myers area is popular with retirees and tourists drawn to its pristine white sand beaches and long barrier islands, and forecasters say it could be completely flooded.

The Hurricane Center warned that devastating storm surges could raise water levels by 12 feet (3.6 meters) to 16 feet (4.9 meters) above ground in the coastal region that straddles Punta Gorda and Fort Myers, between Naples and Sarasota.

More than 2.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders, but by law they could not be compelled to evacuate. Florida residents got into their homes ahead of the impact, hid their valuables on high floors, and joined the long line of cars away from the coast.

“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair, who drove inland from the Tampa area on Tuesday with his wife, son, dog and two kittens, looking for a hotel in Orlando’s tourist area. I was. “We live in a high-risk area, so we thought it best to evacuate.”

Winds exceeding the tropical storm strength of 39 mph (63 km/h) reached Florida by 3:00 a.m., and the first hurricane-like winds were recorded by 6:00 a.m. Rainfall near the landing site can exceed 18 inches (46 centimeters).

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said with the coastal city of Sarasota, population 57,000, on the expected path of the storm, “It’s a big storm. There’s a lot of water coming in.” “This is a life-threatening storm surge.”

Ian’s advance slowed over the Gulf of Mexico, the hurricane became wider and stronger, and the projected course shifted slightly southward, likely sparing the Tampa Bay area damage. First direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921However, with hurricane-strength winds expected across much of the peninsula, many cities could suffer significant damage.

Gil Gonzalez didn’t miss his chance. He climbed into the windows of his Tampa home with plywood and lined it with sandbags to prevent flooding. Before he and his wife evacuated, they packed their car with bottled water, a flashlight, a battery pack for their cell phone, and a camp stove.

“I kept all my valuable possessions on the second floor of a friend’s house,” Gonzalez said.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West were closed, as were Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orlando before the storm.

A couple from England vacationing in Tampa found themselves faced with weathering a storm at their shelter. Glynn and Christine Williams of London were told to leave their hotel near the beach when evacuation was ordered.

“Unfortunately, all the hotels are either full or closed, so it looks like you will be staying in one of the shelters,” said Christine Williams.

Her husband insisted that everything would be fine. “You know, you have to go with the flow,” said Glynn Williams. “So we’re very happy that we’re doing what we do.”

The exact location of the landing site was still unknown, but the strong winds of Ian’s Tropical Storm extended up to 175 miles (280 km) from the center, potentially causing flash floods across the state. Parts of Florida’s east coast also faced storm surge threats, with a lone tornado breaking free from the storm long before it made landfall.

Florida Power and Light has warned people in Ian’s Way to prepare for a day without electricity. The hospital was also moving some patients.

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina could also see flooding on Saturday, with waves crashing along the coast. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp preemptively declared a state of emergency, and he ordered 500 National Guard troops on standby to respond if necessary.

Before heading to Florida, Ian hit Cuba’s Pinar del Rio state with sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph), causing destruction to the island nation’s world-famous tobacco belt. No deaths have been reported.

Local government agency TelePinar reported extensive damage to the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Rio, tweeting pictures of a collapsed ceiling, widespread debris and fallen trees. Some left the affected areas on foot with children, while others tried to evacuate buses from flooded roads. Others chose to stay in damaged homes.

“It was terrible,” said Yusimi Palacios, a resident of Pinar del Rio, inside the damaged home. “But here we live. We just ask the Cuban Revolution to help us with the roof and mattresses.”


Associated Press contributors include Christina Mesquita in Havana, Cuba. Cody Jackson, Tampa, Florida. Frida Frisaro in Miami. Anthony Izaguirre of Tallahassee, Florida. Mike Schneider of Orlando, Florida. Seth Borenstein in Washington and Bobby Kyna Calvin in New York.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.news4jax.com/news/national/2022/09/28/hurricane-ian-nears-florida-coast-threatening-floods-winds/ Ian shy of Category 5 hurricane approaching Florida

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