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Hurricane Ian continues to ravage Florida as a weakened Category 1 storm

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Hurricane Ian had weakened to a Category 1 late Wednesday, but the powerful storm that created life-threatening storm surges, flooding that stranded people in their homes and cut power to more than 2 million was not over, officials warned.

Ian had maximum sustained winds of about 75 mph early Thursday, moving slowly through central Florida en route to the western Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 2 a.m., Ian was about 55 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral and was moving northeast at 9 mph, the Hurricane Center said.

The latest on Hurricane Ian

  • Hurricane Ian had weakened to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph . winds at 11 p.m
  • The wind dropped further at 2 a.m. to about 75 mph
  • More than 2.2 million customers were without power in Florida early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us
  • Florida’s Atlantic coast – from northeast Orlando to Georgia – could see a 6-foot storm surge

Para información en español de Noticias Telemundo haga click aquí

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 considered one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded to make landfall in Florida.

About 2 million Florida customers were without power early Thursday after Ian hit the state’s west coast, causing a path of destruction as it moved toward the Atlantic.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said on Wednesday night that damage is extensive in the county, which includes Cayo Costa, Fort Myers and Cape Coral. The full extent of the impact was not known as the storm and winds were still raging.

Rescue teams had to wait for conditions to improve before coming to the rescue of people stranded by high water.

In Lee County, there were also reports of vehicles “driving into the ocean,” but Sheriff Carmine Marceno said officials were unable to investigate or respond to calls from people trapped until winds dropped below 45 mph.

“Those who are in need: we want to come to you, and we will reach you as soon as possible,” he said in a video address shortly before 8 p.m.

Terry Mazany crouched on the 22nd floor of a Fort Myers high-rise with his wife and 91-year-old mother as the water rose and the wind blew through the building.

“We are stuck. We have 6 feet of water all around us,” Mazany, who moved to Florida from California a year ago, told MSNBC. He noted that the elevators had also been shut down.

“It started out relatively manageable, but for the past 12 hours we’ve had to deal with that 100-plus-mile-per-hour freight train that was shaking the building, heaving,” he said.

While Ian was expected to continue weakening, the Hurricane Center warned it could reach near hurricane strength when it moved over Florida’s east coast on Thursday.

Central and northeast Florida could see 20 inches of rain, and life-threatening storm surges remain a risk for parts of Florida’s west and east coasts, the Hurricane Center said.

Florida’s Atlantic coast from northeast Orlando to Georgia could see a 6-foot storm surge, it said.

Radar indicated that 4 to 5 inches of rain per hour fell into the hurricane’s heavier bands on Wednesday, said Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center.

“Those are incredibly heavy rains,” Rhome told MSNBC Wednesday night. The storm’s slow speed kept the damaging winds going, but also increased the likelihood of flooding, he said.

Tracking website poweroutage.us put the number of Florida customers without electricity at nearly 2.3 million early Thursday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the storm’s intensity will be historic.

“It’s going to be a very strong Category 4 at the very least that will rank in the top five hurricanes to ever hit the Florida peninsula,” he said.

The hurricane is expected to cross central Florida and cross the Atlantic later Thursday.

But then it will likely turn north and approach the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina on Friday, according to the Hurricane Center.

The governors of Georgia, south carolina and North Carolina declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.

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