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Hurricane “Ian” – Major disaster declared, possibly the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history

hurricane ian damage lee county florida us september 2022 f2

Hurricane “Ian” made landfall along the southwestern coast of Florida near Cayo Costa, an island off the coast of Fort Myers, around 19:05 UTC (15:05 EDT) on September 28, 2022, with maximum sustained winds of 240 km/h (150 mph), placing it at the upper end of the Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Ian caused a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida Peninsula, leaving widespread damage and more than 2.6 million customers without power.

In a press briefing at FEMA headquarters on September 29, President Joe Biden said ‘this could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.’

“The numbers are still unclear, but we are hearing early reports of what may be a substantial loss of life,” Biden said.

Florida’s deadliest hurricane in history is Okeechobee (1928), with more than 2 500 fatalities.

Since 01:00 LT on September 29, search and rescue operations have been underway in response to Hurricane “Ian,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.

Urban Search and Rescue Team 2 was the first on site and the Coast Guard made dozens of rescues overnight.

There are 8 USAR teams with more than 800 team members performing search and rescue, and 42 000 lineman responding to the more than 2 million reported power outages.

hurricane ian at 2210z september 28 2022 bg
Hurricane “Ian” at 22:10 UTC on September 28, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
hurricane ian at 2210z september 28 2022 bgz
Hurricane “Ian” at 22:10 UTC on September 28, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

President Biden approved Governor DeSantis’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which unlocks federal assistance in affected areas.

As of 21:00 UTC today, authorities confirmed 7 fatalities.

The full extent of the damage is still unknown.

Ian is forecast to re-strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall over South Carolina on September 30.

hurricane ian 21z nhc fcst september 29 2022
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Flagler/Volusia Line to Cape Fear; Neuse River; St. Johns River.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Savannah River to Cape Fear.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Vero Beach Florida to Savannah River; Cape Fear to Duck North Carolina; Pamlico Sound.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for North of Cape Fear to Duck North Carolina; Pamlico River; Cape Fear River.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Flagler/Volusia County Line to the Savannah River; East of Cape Fear to Surf City.

NHC key messages issued at 21:00 UTC on September 29 (17:00 EDT):

There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge through Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Residents in these areas should follow any advice given by local officials.

Hurricane-force winds are expected across the coasts of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina beginning early Friday, where a Hurricane Warning is in effect. Hurricane conditions are possible by tonight along the coasts of northeastern Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina where a Hurricane Watch is in effect. Preparations should be rushed to completion since tropical storm-force winds will begin well before the center approaches the coast.

Ongoing major-to-record river flooding will continue across portions of central Florida, with considerable flooding in northern Florida. Considerable flash and urban flooding is expected across coastal portions of northeast Florida through Friday. Local significant flooding in southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina is expected through the end of the week.

Update:

With 139 fatalities, Hurricane “Ian” was the deadliest storm to strike the state of Florida, U.S. since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane.

Ian left five more people dead in Cuba, 5 in North Carolina and 1 in Virginia, bringing the total to 150, as of October 24.

Featured image credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida

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