National Hurricane Center/Screenshot by NPR
Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon in Lee County, southwest Florida. The Category 4 hurricane produced winds of 150 miles per hour and a storm surge more than 7 feet high in Naples before making landfall.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that high winds and rain from Ian will cause intense storm surges and flooding, resulting in catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. Storm surges in Lee and Charlotte counties could reach heights of 18 feet.
National Hurricane Center acting director Jamie Rhome said in an advisory that the time for evacuation is long over. Those left in the storm’s path should retreat to the center of their home and prepare for sustained ravaging winds.
The hurricane’s eyewall reached Sanibel and Captiva Islands, west of Fort Myers, shortly after noon. A webcam on Fort Meyers beach showed palm trees bending in the wind as waves threw furniture into the surf.
Ian is expected to continue heading northeast through Florida. The situation on the ground is likely to get worse before it gets better as high tide is not until 7:06 p.m. Wednesday, which will contribute to storm surge conditions.
The storm is expected to weaken after making landfall, but could be near hurricane strength as it tracks toward Florida’s east coast on Thursday, the NHC said. Ian will continue north to northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina on Friday.
Updates on the storm can be found on the National Hurricane Center website here.