Hurricane Ian becomes Category 4 and approaches Florida
Floridians try to protect a home as Hurricane Ian heads into the US state with high winds, torrential rains and a powerful storm surge, in the seaside community of Indian Shores, September 27, 2022.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced at 5 a.m. Wednesday that Hurricane Ian had gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico and x27; it is now Category 4 with winds up to 220 km/h.
Weather reports indicate that Hurricane Ian has moved to the extremely dangerous Category 4 level as it prepares to make landfall on the west coast of Florida.
The US National Hurricane Center, located in Miami, announced at 5 a.m. Wednesday that Ian's power had reached sustained winds of 220 km/h. It was then about 125 miles west-southwest of Naples, Florida. It is added that it is moving in a northerly direction at a speed of 17 km/h.
Warnings have been issued of possible storm surges along the populous Gulf Coast between Bonita Beach and the Tampa Bay area.
Winds and rain have begun to escalate as the previous day Ian hit the western tip of Cuba hard causing a blackout across the entire island.
Zuram Rodriguez surveys the damage around his mobile home in Davie, Fla. early Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
In Florida , residents began boarding up their homes and hoarding their valuables on the upper floors before evacuating.
At least 2.5 million Floridians have been ordered to evacuate their homes in anticipation of powerful storm surges, wind gusts and torrential rains. National Hurricane Center experts predict Ian will make landfall on Florida's southwest coast on Wednesday afternoon.
Winds already exceeding the force of x27;a tropical storm were recorded at 3 a.m. Florida, and hurricane-force gusts are expected to sweep through the area long before the eye of the storm hits the storm. x27;reaches the coastline, experts said.
Ian's progress slowed in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing the hurricane to grow in size and power. A hurricane warning has been issued for an area of 350 kilometers including the cities of Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St. Petersburg. For the latter, it could be the first direct contact with a hurricane since 1921.
Storm surges could produce 12-foot waves at high tide, and rainfall amounts as high as 18 inches, experts say.
Tampa Airports , St. Petersburg and Key West were closed. The Disney World and Sea World amusement parks in Orlando have also closed.
Electricity provider Florida Power and Light has warned customers that #x27;they could be without power for several days if they are in Ian's way.
As a precaution, several seniors' residences and hospitals have displaced their residents and patients.
In addition to Florida, parts of Georgia and South Carolina could also experience flooding and storm surge on Saturday.
In Cuba, Ian caused significant damage in the province of Pinar del Río with sustained winds of 205 km/h. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported, but several buildings were damaged and trees were uprooted.