Ian makes landfall in Florida as a category 4 hurricane and already leaves tornadoes and flooding on the coast

So far, no victims have been reported, but in the Florida Keys they are looking for about twenty Cuban “rafters” who were aboard a boat

The powerful hurricane Ian made landfall this Wednesday on the west coast of Florida (USA) with maximum sustained winds of 240 km / h , and “catastrophic” flooding and storm surges are still expected in parts of this coastal strip facing the Gulf of Mexico .

So far no victims have been reported in the impact area, but in the Florida Keys, in the south of the state, they are looking for twenty Cuban “rafters” who were aboard a boat that capsized in the midst of the strong waves caused for the hurricane.

Four of the rafters swam to land and another three were rescued by the coastguard, who continue to search for the missing.

According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), the eye of the hurricane made landfall around 3:05 p.m. today (19:05 GMT) near Cayo Costa , a barrier island off the southern town of Fort Myers. , more than 100 kilometers south of Tampa, where coastal towns are still under flood alert due to storm surge.

According to the NHC, in parts of Florida’s west coast, which hasn’t been hit directly by a cyclone in 100 years , rising seas above normal levels may peak as high as 5.5 meters from Ian , which after Florida will impact the states of Georgia and South Carolina.

Images of the waves generated by the winds of Hurricane Ian that begin to bury entire neighborhoods in the State of Florida, in this case in Bonita Springs.

Hours before it made landfall, the effects of this “extremely dangerous” cyclone, as the NHC has described it, were already being felt in the Florida peninsula, where more than a million customers are without electricity this afternoon, according to the specialized website poweroutage.us.

The force of Ian’s winds caused Tampa Bay, where the hurricane was thought to make landfall until today , to run out of water, like a reverse tide.

Authorities warned people to refrain from strolling along the bay bed. “The water is going to come back ,” the Weather Service in Tampa said in a message on Twitter.

The Orlando tourist airport, where the theme parks are located, which will remain closed today and tomorrow , has registered 300 flight cancellations this Wednesday, the largest number of the total of 2,000 flights that have not departed in the US this day, most of them from Florida airports, according to FlightAware.com.

The state’s main power company, FPL, announced in the morning that it has up to 40,000 workers, some of them from other states , to proceed with the restoration of power once the hurricane passes.

An event that will change your life

“Ian is going to be a life changing event. This is a very powerful catastrophic storm that is going to cause significant damage,” warned the firm’s chief executive, Eric Silagy, during a press conference prior to the arrival of the hurricane.

As Cape Coral fire chief Ryan Lamb revealed to CNN, the agency has today received “reports of significant structural damage” throughout the city, near Cayo Costa and where torrential rains have been recorded for hours.

Ian’s passage will produce up to 45 centimeters of rainwater accumulation in central and northeast Florida , as well as tornadoes for the remainder of the day, according to NHC forecasts.

In Naples, south of Fort Myers and where local media show images of completely flooded streets, local police have been forced to impose a curfew and ask residents to “take shelter and get to the highest points of their homes” .

According to the local station WINK, before Ian made landfall, the tide in Naples rose almost two meters above normal high tide , which surpasses the previous record of 1.3 meters registered in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma.

In Hillsborough County, which is home to the city of Tampa and is also under a hurricane warning , more than 7,500 people have had to go to local shelters, according to local police.

Of the 67 counties in Florida, all of them declared in emergency since Monday, 18 issued mandatory evacuation orders before the arrival of Ian , according to the federal Department of Emergency Management (FEMA).

On the east coast of Florida, the hurricane is unloading abundant rains and tornadoes were recorded in areas surrounding Miami that caused two injuries.

“This is going to be one of those historic hurricanes,” the “impact is going to be enormous,” warned the governor at a press conference prior to the arrival of the center of the hurricane in Florida, and in which he warned that it was too late to evacuate. and announced that some 5,000 members of the Florida National Guard were ready.

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