Hurricane Ian remained on Florida’s Gulf coast on Tuesday as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” after shutting power to all of Cuba, officials said.
The Category 3 hurricane moved northeast across the Gulf of Mexico at 10 mph Tuesday night and is expected to pass west of the Florida Keys before crashing into a stretch of coastline between Naples and Tampa on Wednesday. the National Hurricane Center said:.
Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters late Tuesday that the latest forecast trail appeared to make the storm make landfall in Charlotte and Lee counties, south of Tampa.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm, which had picked up winds of 120 mph and an expected storm surge of up to 12 feet in some areas, was set to get stronger overnight.
Storm surge flooding occurred early on Wednesday across the lower Florida Keys, the center said.
More than 2 million people along Florida’s Gulf Coast were under evacuation orders, DeSantis said.
He urged those who had not yet left to do so immediately and warned of the havoc the slow-moving storm could wreak upon the state.
“When it actually comes ashore, it will start to trickle more slowly,” DeSantis said. “That’s going to dump a huge amount of rain on the state of Florida.”
Rain totals of 6 to 8 inches were forecast for much of the Florida Keys and South Florida. A foot to 18 inches was expected for the central and northeastern parts of the state, the Hurricane Center said.
DeSantis warned of possible tornadoes spotted on radar and said the bridges would likely be closed on Wednesday.
Thousands of people in the southern part of the state had already lost power by Tuesday evening — a number that DeSantis said would quickly run into the millions on Wednesday.
The latest on Hurricane Ian
- The Category 3 storm was located 95 miles from Naples, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, early Wednesday.
- Ian cut power to all of Cuba after he landed on Tuesday
- Tropical storm winds have reached Florida’s southern peninsula.
- About 2.5 million residents are under some sort of evacuation order in Florida.
- Ian caused storm surge flooding across the lower Florida Keys early Wednesday.
In Cuba, where Ian made landfall early Tuesday in the western province of Pinar del Río, the entire island of 11.3 million people was without power after the storm damaged the electricity grid, the country’s national electricity service said Tuesday.
The agency said it expected power to be restored Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Reuters reported: those violent gusts broke windows and tore metal roofs off old houses and buildings.
Roads to areas directly affected by the hurricane remained impassable, blocked by fallen trees and power lines, Reuters reported.
Hirochi Robaina, the owner of a cigar factory in Pinar del Río, posted nearly two dozen photos to Facebook on Tuesday showing the wreckage left behind by the storm.
“It was apocalyptic,” he said. “A real disaster.”
Michelle Acevedo and Carmen Gonzalez contributed.