A dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Ian bore down on Florida’s west coast Wednesday, bringing potentially “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding.”
Ian’s eyewall began thrashing southwest Florida from Fort Myers to Sanibel around noon with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph shy of Category 5 strength.
Early images from Ian’s wrath showed intense winds, heavy rainfall, and flooded streets with downed trees and power lines in Naples and other parts of the west coast.
Cars and debris were seen swept away by flood waters in some areas as the effects of Ian began to hit the area.
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Pictures: ‘Catastrophic' Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall in Florida
National Hurricane Center forecasters say Ian could produce up to 2 feet of rain and storm surge up to 18 feet in some areas, including Bonita Beach and Charlotte Harbor.
Mandatory evacuations were issued ahead of the storm for more than 2.5 million people in 12 low-lying coastal counties, including Charlotte County where Ian is expected to make landfall.
U.S. & World
The latest forecast models show Ian slowly crawling across central Florida for nearly two days before exiting near Daytona Beach as a tropical storm Friday morning.