Images have emerged of a storm that could have a “catastrophic impact” on the southeastern United States – and it’s bigger and more dangerous than meteorologists had predicted.
There are warnings from people that they will “not survive” the storm if they are trapped by waves five meters high and winds of 250 km / h.
“This is going to be a storm we’ve been talking about for many years to come. It’s a historic event,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service.
Category 4 Hurricane Ian is due to hit the west coast of Florida Wednesday afternoon US time (early Thursday, EST).
Ian has already passed through Cuba, causing damage and cutting off the electricity. Then trace it to the western side of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
An impact is expected between the cities of Fort Myers and Tampa, with the latter located near the tourist attraction of Orlando.
At noon in Florida (2 a.m. EST), 160 km/h winds hit Sanibel Island, off the coast. In Tampa Bay, the water literally receded from the shore, sucked up by a hurricane. As the store approaches, all that water and more will rush in.
The US National Hurricane Center did not utter its words that Ian would cause “catastrophic” storm surges, winds and floods within the state.
This sentiment was echoed by Deanne Criswell of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“There will be catastrophic effects, and not only are we going to see the storm make landfall, but we are also really concerned about all the inland flooding because it brings with it a lot of rain and is going to slowly move in,” she told CNN.
Michael Brennan, acting deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was even more vocal when he warned of storms of up to 16 feet (5 meters) around the Fort Myers area.
“I am six feet tall. That is almost three times my height.”
“It is not just about the water rising from the storms, it is the waves breaking above them that will be driven by winds of 155 km/h (250 km/h).
These waves can destroy buildings. That’s not the situation you’re going to live in, said Mr. Brennan.
Eye of Ian dwarfs other storms
The image of the eye of the storm shook meteorologists. The eye – the heart of the storm – is usually relatively small.
Its eye is about 56 km wide. The eye of Hurricane Charlie, which struck Florida in 2004 and killed 10 people, was only 11 kilometers before it hit the ground.
Indeed, only what was left of Hurricane Charlie could fit into the eye of Hurricane Ian.
Once Ian hits land, he is expected to head north across the state and then into the Atlantic Ocean. But it’s possible to make landfall again around Georgia in South Carolina.
Airports in Tampa and Orlando have halted all commercial flights, and about 337,000 Florida residents are already without power.
On Tuesday, Ian plunged the whole of Cuba into darkness after hitting the west of the country as a Category 3 for more than five hours before turning back over the Gulf of Mexico.
State electricity company Union Electric said the storm destroyed Cuba’s power grid and left the island “without electrical service”.
Only a few people with gasoline-powered generators had electricity on the island of over 11 million people.
Originally Posted as “Catastrophic” Hurricane Ian Hit Florida