Hurricane Ian is forecasted to hit the coast of Florida later today, Wednesday, September 28. Following fears of winds of over 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour), the National Weather Service (NWS) has updated its storm warning to a strong category 4. They also warned of life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic floods due to intense rainfall, and possible tornados.
The center of Ian is expected to make landfall on Florida’s west coast just south of Tampa this afternoon, according to the NOAA’s latest public advisory. It is forecast to head northwards over central Florida tonight and Thursday morning, then emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday.
Over 2.5 million Florida residents were told to pack their belongings and evacuate their homes back when Ian threatened to make landfall as a category 3. Now the threat has been heightened to category 4, and some parts of the state are experiencing flooding and power outages already.
“Life-threatening storm surge – one of many expected hazards with Hurricane #Ian – along the west coast of Florida has prompted evacuation orders for some communities. I urge those residents to heed directions from officials! Your safety is at the heart of these tough decisions,” NWS Director Ken Graham said in a tweet on Monday.
However, a handful of Florida residents have chosen to ignore the warnings and stay put. As NPR reports, this includes disabled people with mobility issues, those who can not afford to leave, and the brave few who have stayed to help others.
A looking at any of the satellite imagery will tell you that this is a serious storm. Hurricane Ian started in the Atlantic Ocean where it was first identified near the Caribbean Windward Islands. As it entered the Carribran Sea, it built up strength and carved northwards.
Yesterday, it hit the west coast of Cuba, reportedly bringing sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour), which wiped out huge parts of the country's power grid. As it journeys up through the Gulf of Mexico, it only grew more powerful.
Beyond the devastation set to come with Hurricane Ian, the storm has also disturbed the launch of the highly anticipated launch of the Artemis I mission to the Moon. Originally set for September 3, the launch has seen numerous setbacks over the past month and, last week, NASA called off its Artemis launch scheduled for September 27.
Buckle up and stay safe out there.