Hurricane Ian hits southwest Florida with ‘catastrophic’ storm surge

Hurricane Ian is expected to inundate parts of Florida’s west coast, with a storm surge as high as 18 feet above the ground after making landfall Wednesday afternoon across the peninsula. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Why it matters: Surge numbers this high — 12 to 18 feet — would be unprecedented for the region and the highest number ever recorded in the U.S.

  • “Ian is hitting the Florida peninsula with catastrophic storm surge, high winds and flooding,” the NHC said in an update at 5 p.m. ET.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a Wednesday night briefing that the entire state would be devastation: “Overwhelmingly, the biggest problem is flooding, and the result is flooding…” He says. “In some areas, we think it’s up to 12 feet.”

Push the news: Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida at 3:05 p.m. ET with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, making it an ‘extremely dangerous’ hurricane,” NHC says.

  • The NHC expects a “catastrophic” storm surge of 12 to 18 feet somewhere between Englewood and Bonita Beach, including Port Charlotte.
  • Storm surge is forecast for nearly all of Florida’s west coast, with 8 to 12 feet expected somewhere between Bonita Beach and the small island of Chokoloski in southern Florida, and 6 to 12 feet from Englewood to Longboat Key. 10 feet.
  • The storm surge will be accompanied by strong winds, heavy rainfall and extensive flooding.

big storm At 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, waves in Naples had topped 9 feet, setting a new record for the city, according to NOAA monitoring stations.

Threat Level: Some communities, possibly including Naples, will experience the heaviest surges and winds on the backside of the storm’s eyewall.

  • Winds will be onshore and likely stronger than when the storm initially approaches.

Newest: As of 7 p.m. ET, it was moving northeastward at about 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, 25 miles east-northeast of Punta Gorda.

  • It made landfall on the mainland Florida peninsula near Pirate Harbor, south of Punta Gorda, at about 4:35 p.m. ET, according to the NHC.
  • Ft. nearby National Marine Service station. According to an NHC update at 7 p.m. ET, Myers reported a water level of more than 7 feet.

Big picture: The NHC considers storm surge, or the abnormal rise in water levels produced by a storm, to be the deadliest and most damaging aspect of a hurricane.

  • Swells are the result of winds surrounding the storm pushing water toward the shoreline in a cyclonic fashion and can cause “extreme” flooding in coastal areas, especially at high tide.


Andrew Freedman of Axios contributed to this story.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with more details.

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