Posted BY: RM | NwoReport
TAMPA, Fla. – Hurricane Ian continued to weaken over Florida, downgrading to a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday evening, but dangerous winds and storm surges continue to batter Florida.
Maximum sustained winds have dropped to 90 mph, according to FOX Weather.
Storm surges will continue into Thursday and Friday along the coasts of Northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Flash Flood Emergencies have also been issued as torrential rains persist throughout Florida.
Fueled by warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Ian grew to a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane overnight and made landfall just after 3 p.m. ET near Cayo Costa, not far from the heavily populated Fort Myers area, the National Hurricane Center said.
The massive storm was expected to cause “catastrophic” storm surge, winds, flooding, and the possibility of tornadoes across the Florida peninsula.
The hurricane center warned that devastating storm surges could push as much as 12 to 18 feet of water over a nearly 100-mile stretch of coastline, from Bonita Beach north through Fort Myers to Englewood. Rainfall near the area of landfall could top 18 inches.
Fort Myers, an area popular with retirees and tourists drawn to pristine white sandy beaches, could be inundated by a storm surge of up to 18 feet, forecasters said.
Ian was likely to remain intact as it slowly crossed the Florida peninsula, spending a day or more dumping flooding rains across a broad area, including Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville.
“This is going to be a nasty nasty day, two days,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said early Wednesday, stressing that people in Ian’s path along the coast should rush to the safest possible shelter and stay there.
“It’s time to hunker down and prepare for the storm,” DeSantis said. “Do what you need to do to stay safe. If you are where that storm is approaching, you’re already in hazardous conditions. It’s going to get a lot worse very quickly.”