The Miami-based National Hurricane Center says the extremely dangerous hurricane named Ian has made landfall in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.
Forecasters say Ian came ashore Wednesday near Cayo Costa, along the southwestern coast of Florida, with maximum sustained winds of nearly 250 kilometers an hour, close to the threshold of becoming a Category 5 on the center’s five-level scale that measures a storm’s wind speed and destructive potential.
More than 2 million residents on Florida’s west coast have been ordered to evacuate their homes, while Governor Ron DeSantis has activated thousands of National Guard troops as part of the state’s response. Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld are among tourist attractions shutting down their popular theme parks and resorts. The U.S. space agency NASA has closed the visitor’s center at its Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s eastern coast, and has rolled its massive Artemis 1 moon rocket and Orion space capsule from its launch pad back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, further delaying its much anticipated test flight by several more weeks.
Thousands of flights have been canceled after several major airports in the expected path of the storm, including Tampa and St. Petersburg, shut down operations.
Forecasters say Hurricane Ian is expected to cause life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula, as well as considerable flash, urban and river flooding as it crosses central Florida Wednesday night and Thursday before reemerging over the western Atlantic Ocean. Ian is also expected to produce as much as 60 centimeters of rain from the Florida Keys and South Florida into the neighboring states of Georgia and South Carolina.
Source: Voice Of America