Hurricane Ian Strengthened To Category 4 Storm; To Hit Florida Wednesday

floridastrom sept28 lt

Hurricane Ian has strengthened into a Category 4 storm, and is moving toward Florida, where it is expected to make landfall on the state's west coast on Wednesday afternoon, reports say.

Millions are under order to evacuate after the National Hurricane Center warned of catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida Peninsula.

"The center of Ian is forecast to move over central Florida tonight and Thursday morning and emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday," NHC said in its latest update.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts as of around 7 a.m. ET.

It is not yet clear where Ian will make landfall. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the forecast track appeared to show the storm hitting south of Tampa, while FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said his team is expecting landfall somewhere between Fort Myers and Tampa.

"As far as Hurricane Ian's path, it has become more defined. But as with any hurricane, it can still be unpredictable", he said at a news conference.

By the time it reaches the shores of Florida, the storm is going to slow down to approximately five miles per hour. Floridians are going to experience the impacts from this storm for a very long time, according to him.

"In addition to the storm surge, we are also going to see significant rainfall with a possibility of up to 25 inches in some isolated parts of Florida. There's always a possibility for tornadoes," Criswell told reporters.

FEMA has established a Search and Rescue Coordination Group in Miami. The teams will coordinate search and rescue efforts by land, by air, and by sea.

President Joe Biden held separate calls with Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa, Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg, and Mayor Frank Hibbard of Clearwater to discuss preparations for the potential impacts from Hurricane Ian.

Biden said that he has directed FEMA Administrator Criswell to ensure that all available federal support is surged to prepare in advance and to respond in the aftermath of the storm.

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