Hurricane Ian grew into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm packing sustained winds of 140 mph early Wednesday, just hours before was expected to make landfall on Florida's southwest coast. About 2.5 million peopleas the hurricane started lashing the Florida peninsula with heavy rain and tropical-storm-force winds in the early hours.
Ian tore across western Cuba on Tuesday packing sustained winds up to 125 mph. Damage from the stormleaving the entire country in the dark Wednesday morning.
Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg were among the cities bracing for the worst of the storm, but the latest forecasts suggested Ian would make landfall slightly further south, with the Ft. Myers region at risk of a possible direct hit. Given the size and strength of the hurricane and the storm surge it's expected to drive into coastal areas, officials were clear that much of Florida remained at risk.
“It's important to say that Tampa Bay region, you are not out of the woods yet,” Florida Director of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie said Tuesday, urging residents to “heed the warnings that are in place.”