Hurricane Ian had weakened to a Category 1 on Wednesday evening, but the powerful storm that brought life-threatening storm surges, flooding that trapped people in their homes and knocked out power to more than 2 million people was not over, officials warned.
Ian had maximum sustained winds of around 75 mph early Thursday and was moving slowly through central Florida en route to the western Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 2 a.m., Ian was about 55 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral and moving northeast at 9 mph, the hurricane center said.
The latest on Hurricane Ian
- Hurricane Ian had weakened to a Category 1 storm with winds of 90 mph by 11 p.m.
- Its winds dropped again at 2 a.m. to around 75 mph
- More than 2.2 million customers were without power in Florida as of early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us
- Florida’s Atlantic coast – northeast from Orlando to Georgia – could see a 6ft storm surge
For information in Spanish from Noticias Telemundo click here
Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa around 3 p.m. Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, forecasters said.
The storm is believed to be one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in Florida.
About 2 million customers in Florida were without power early Thursday after Ian hit the state’s west coast, setting a course of destruction as it headed for the Atlantic Ocean.
Lee County Executive Roger Desjarlais said late Wednesday that damage was extensive in the county, which includes Cayo Costa, Fort Myers and Cape Coral. The extent of the impact was not known as the storm and winds were still raging.
Rescue teams were forced to wait for conditions to improve before going to the rescue of people stranded by high water.
In Lee County, there have also been reports of vehicles ‘floating in the ocean’, but Sheriff Carmine Marceno said officials were unable to investigate or respond to calls from trapped people. until winds drop below 45 mph.
“Those in need: we want to reach you, and we will get back to you as soon as possible,” he said in a video address shortly before 8 p.m.
Terry Mazany hunkered down on the 22nd floor of a Fort Myers skyscraper with his 91-year-old wife and mother as water rose and winds whipped the building.
“We are trapped. There’s 8 feet of water around us,” Mazany, who moved to Florida from California a year ago, told MSNBC. He noted that the elevators were also closed.
“It started out relatively manageable, but for the past 12 hours we’ve been dealing with this 100+ mile an hour freight train shaking the building, rocking,” he said.
Although Ian is expected to continue to weaken, the hurricane center warned that it could be near hurricane strength as it moves across the east coast of the Florida Thursday.
Central and northeast Florida could receive 20 inches of rain, and potentially deadly storm surge remains a risk for parts of Florida’s west and east coasts, the hurricane center said.
Florida’s Atlantic coast, northeast of Orlando to Georgia, could experience a 6-foot storm surge, he said.
Radar indicated 4 to 5 inches of rain per hour was falling in the hurricane’s heaviest bands on Wednesday, said Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center.
“Those are unbelievably heavy rainfall rates,” Rhome said Wednesday night on MSNBC. The storm’s slow speed prolonged the damaging wind but also increased the potential for flooding, he said.
Tracking website poweroutage.us estimated the number of customers in Florida without power at nearly 2.3 million early Thursday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the intensity of the storm would be historic.
“At a minimum, this will be a very strong Category 4 that will rank among the top five hurricanes to ever hit the Florida Peninsula,” he said.
The hurricane is expected to cross central Florida and pass over the Atlantic Ocean later Thursday.
But it will then likely turn north and approach the northeast coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina on Friday, according to the hurricane center.
The governors of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina declared states of emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival.