Hurricane Ian is expected to inundate some parts of Florida’s west coast with storm surges up to 18 feet above ground level as it moves across the peninsula after making landfall Wednesday afternoon. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said:.
Why it matters: Such high peak figures – 12 to 18 ft – would be unprecedented for the region and are among the highest ever in the US
- “Ian storms the Florida peninsula with catastrophic storm surge, wind and flooding,” the NHC said in a 5:00 p.m. ET update.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) warned during a briefing Wednesday night that damage will be statewide: “Overwhelmingly, that surge has been the biggest problem and the flooding … as a result,” he said. “In some areas we think it hit 12 feet.”
Send the news: Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida at 3:05 p.m. ET with maximum sustained winds of 250 mph as an “extremely dangerous” hurricane,” NHC said:.
- NHC expects between Englewood and Bonita Beach between Englewood and Bonita Beach between 12 and 18 feet of “catastrophic” storm surge, including Charlotte Harbor.
- Storm surge is expected along almost the entire west coast of Florida, with 8 to 12 ft expected somewhere between Bonita Beach and the small island of Chokoloskee in southern Florida, and 6 to 10 ft from Englewood to Longboat Key.
- The storm surge is accompanied by strong winds, heavy rainfall and extensive flooding.
The Great Storm had already caused more than 9 ft of wave in Naples at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, a new record for the city, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitoring station.
Threat level: Some communities, including likely Naples, will experience the worst of the swell and wind at the back of the storm’s eyewall.
- Winds will be onshore and may be stronger than during the storm’s initial approach.
The last: As of 7 p.m. ET, it was moving northeast at about 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and was about 40 miles east-northeast of Punta Gorda.
- It made landfall on the peninsula of mainland Florida just south of Punta Gorda near Pirate Harbor around 4:35 p.m. ET, according to the NHC.
- A National Ocean Service station near Ft. Myers reported a water level of more than 7 ft, according to a 7 p.m. EST NHC update.
The big picture: The NHC considers storm surge, or an abnormal rise in water generated by a storm, the most deadly and destructive aspect of hurricanes.
- The swell is the result of water being propelled to the shoreline by the wind moving cyclonic around the storm and can cause “extreme” flooding in coastal areas, especially when it coincides with high tide.
Andrew Freedman of Axios contributed to this story.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional details.