The hurricane is now gathering strength and bearing down on Florida as the state races to prepare for a “life-threatening” storm expected to pass over the Florida Keys.
More than 2.5 million Floridians have been placed under evacuation orders or warnings with the sprawling storm on track to make landfall as a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane later today.
Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to heed warnings to evacuate to higher ground due to the potential for “catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge”.
He said 8,000 people were without power in southeastern Florida and that 30,000 state personnel were on alert to help respond to outages.
“This is a lot of nasty weather that we’re in store for over the next few days,” he said.
The most recent models have the hurricane projected to make landfall south of Tampa Bay, where storm surges could reach up to 12 ft (3.7 metres). Up to 24 inches (61cm) of rain is expected in some areas and wind speeds of 130 miles per hour (209km/h).
‘Extremely dangerous major hurricane’
2.5 million people evacuated up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast
Storm surge could reach 10 feet in Tampa area
How to keep your pet safe during a storm like Hurricane Ian
Ron DeSantis says he is ‘thankful’ to Biden amid political sparring
08:27 , Shweta Sharma
Appearing on Fox News, Florida governor Ron DeSantis thanked Joe Biden for his swift approval of the emergency declaration and aid to his state.
Amid their recent sparring over the Martha’s Vineyard migrants issue, Mr DeSantis said he and the president were working together “regardless of party lines” as lives are at stake.
Mr DeSantis has been at loggerheads with Democrats after he was sued for sending migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard on two flights earlier this month.
On Hannity, Ron DeSantis says he's "thankful" for Biden's help with the Hurricane Ian response pic.twitter.com/trANvyIRy7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 28, 2022
Ian moving closer to west coast of Florida
07:52 , Shweta Sharma
A hurricane warning is in effect for an area spanning Chokoloskee to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay and Dry Tortugas.
It is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon, possibly as a Category 4 hurricane.
At least two dead in Cuba as hurricane leaves behind trail of destruction
07:39 , Shweta Sharma
At least two people have died in Cuba from building collapses, confirmed Yamilé Ramos Cordero, president of the Provincial Defense Council of Pinar del Río.
A woman in the Pinar del Río municipality of San Luis died after a wall of her home collapsed, he said.
Another person, a man, died after the roof of his house caved in.
Ian made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 storm, and has caused significant damage to some of the most important tobacco farms in Cuba – producing the island’s famous cigars. The country had already been struggling with an economic crisis and faced frequent power outages in recent months.
The impacts of the storm were described as “apocalyptic” by residents after their farms were destroyed.
🇨🇺 | LO ÚLTIMO: El huracán Ian ha dejado destrozos, derrumbes de viviendas, inundaciones y cortes eléctricos masivos a su paso por la parte occidental de Cuba. pic.twitter.com/qFFCkbjrFp
— Alerta Mundial (@AIertaMundiaI) September 27, 2022
Video shows multiple aircrafts damaged at North Perry Airport
07:30 , Shweta Sharma
Aircrafts were seen rammed into each other, some turned upside down and many were damaged after a tornado tore through Broward County on Tuesday night.
Breaking: Multiple aircrafts damaged at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Florida, after a tornado hit the area. pic.twitter.com/vINOAOqspE
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) September 28, 2022
— Total Traffic Miami (@TotalTrafficMIA) September 28, 2022
Ian producing storm surge flooding across the lower Florida Keys, says NHC
07:15 , Shweta Sharma
In its latest 1am update on Wednesday night, National Hurricane Centre said the hurricane is producing storm surge flooding in entire lower Florida keys.
Sustained winds of 63mph and gusts over 93mph have been detected in the region.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 28, 2022
Reports of damages as tornadoes strike parts of Florida
06:46 , Shweta Sharma
Several tornados have struck Floridian cities, including Palm Beach County, Broward County and Cooper City as Hurricane Ian is expected to cause more damage.
Buildings and vehicles were damaged in Palm Beach County’s Kings Point community late Tuesday. Pictures from the area showed cars rammed into each other, uprooted trees and damaged houses.
Pictures of terrible damage now coming in from Kings Point in Delray Beach where a possible tornado touched down. Outer bands of Hurricane Ian started rolling through Palm Beach County Tuesday evening. Still waiting on reports of any injuries. Courtesy: Pierre Mondissier pic.twitter.com/4QIN04oP2i
— Shayne Wright (@swrightwpbf) September 28, 2022
At least two tornadoes struck Broward County on Tuesday evening, with its mayor saying it resulted in significant damage to several aircrafts and hangers at North Perry Airport (HWO). The airport was shut down until further notice.
Another tornado was reported over Cooper City and a warning from the National Weather Service to residents in Davie, Plantation and Lauderdale Lakes to take cover immediately, the Miami Herald reported.
A tornado passed over a section of North Perry Airport (HWO) resulting in significant damage to several aircraft and a few hangars. In an abundance of caution, the BCAD is temporarily closing HWO until further notice to fully assess the damage and it’s operational readiness.
— Michael Udine (@Michaeludine) September 28, 2022
Watch as massive waves pummel Key West
06:18 , Shweta Sharma
Images and videos from the Florida Keys are showing significant flooding as the storm was passing through the islands off the southern tip of the state ahead of the expected landfall on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Florida residents are evacuating their homes, stashing precious belongings on upper floors and fleeing from oncoming Hurricane Ian.
Ian is expected to grow wider and stronger as its forward movement slowed over the Gulf.
A hurricane warning covering roughly 220 miles (350 km) of the state included Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St Petersburg, which could get their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.
WATCH 🚨 Massive waves hit Southernmost point in Key West, Florida as Hurricane Ian passes by pic.twitter.com/kK2HjR7W7g
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) September 28, 2022
Biden discusses preparations with governor
06:00 , Shweta Sharma
US president Joe Biden has spoke to Florida governor Ron DeSantis to discuss the steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Twitter, adding the two “committed to continued close coordination.”
Mr Biden said that he has approved an emergency assistance request from Florida governor Ron DeSantis and that the administration has been positioning supplies and personnel in recent days, including 3.5 million litres of water, 3.7 million meals and 700 generators.
“Our safety is more important than anything,” Mr Biden said. “Our hearts are with everyone who will feel the effects of this storm, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.”
When hurricanes and Congress collide
05:58 , Josh Marcus
A source with knowledge of the panel’s internal deliberations said the postponement of what would be the committee’s ninth public session will allow one of the nine select committee members, Representative Stephanie Murphy, to tend to any matters that arise in her Florida district due to the approaching storm.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, select committee chairman Representative Bennie Thompson and the panel’s vice-chair, Representative Liz Cheney, said: “In light of Hurricane Ian bearing down on parts of Florida, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s proceedings. We’re praying for the safety of all those in the storm’s path”.
More from Washington in our story.
Warnings in Florida for ‘life-threatening storm surge’ and ‘catastrophic flooding’
05:25 , Shweta Sharma
The National Hurricane Center has issued a warning for a ‘life-threatening storm surge’ for Florida’s west coast. The region from Naples to Sarasota is at the highest risk, it said.
A warning is in place for hurricane-force winds for southwest and west-central Florida beginning on Wednesday morning.
Heavy rainfall will cause “catastrophic flooding” across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in southern Florida, northern Florida and parts of Georgia and Carolina.
Heavy rainfall will cause catastrophic flooding across portions of central Florida with considerable flooding in southern Florida, northern Florida and parts of Georgia and Carolina.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 28, 2022
Scores of flights delayed as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida
04:58 , Josh Marcus
The major airport, which has 280 daily flights, will suspend operations at 5pm amid the threat of the Category 3 storm which is set to bring more than 100mph winds, severe downpours and “life-threatening” coastal surge to the west coast of Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to heed warnings to evacuate and seek higher ground due to potential for “catstrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge”.
The most recent weather models have Hurricane Ian projected to make landfall south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s west coast.
Get the full story.
Entire Cuba without power after hurricane knocks out electric grid
04:29 , Shweta Sharma
Cuba is facing a complete power blackout after Hurricane Ian slammed into the island’s western tip.
The country’s 11 million people are without power after the electrical system suffered a total collapse and one of its power plants could not be restored, officials at Cuba’s Electric Union said.
Power was initially knocked out to about 1 million people in Cuba’s western provinces, but later the entire grid collapsed.
The head of the electrical energy authority said on Cuban state television on Tuesday that the island-wide blackout happened due to a breakdown of the national electrical system.
The Category 3 storm on the island’s western end is now barreling towards Florida.
Disney parks rush to ready for Hurricane Ian
03:58 , Josh Marcus
Disney has announced that it’s shutting down some operations as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida.
“Walt Disney World Resort is preparing for necessary operational adjustments based on the latest information from the National Weather Service,” the company said in a statement posted to its site.
The water park Blizzard Beach is currently closed and another water park, Typhoon Lagoon, will close temporarily on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will temporarily close from Wednesday until Friday due to the weather, Disney said.
Read Gustaf Kilander’s full report.
Hurricane Ian is another sign of climate change’s impacts
02:58 , Josh Marcus
Hurricane Ian officially formed as a Category 1 storm on Monday, bearing down on the Cayman Islands and Cuba as Floridians were warned to “be ready” for extreme weather in the coming days.
After months with few notable storms, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is in full swing. As Florida prepares for the incoming weather event, Atlantic Canada is recovering from post-tropical cyclone Fiona which made landfall in Nova Scotia early on Saturday.
Research on 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Texas found that planetary warming made rainfall during the days-long deluge 15 per cent more intense. Another study on 2019’s Typhoon Hagbis in Japan found that the climate crisis added at least $4bn in additional damages.
Ethan Freedman with the full story.
What does a hurricane look like from space?
01:58 , Josh Marcus
The images, released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed tightly packed storm bands rotating north as the eye passed over western Cuba on Tuesday morning.
Cuba was lashed with heavy rain and winds overnight, bringing the threat of coastal surges, flash flooding and landslides.
Louise Boyle has the details.
Hurricane Ian to bring ‘life-threatening’ storm surge across Florida
01:36 , Josh Marcus
Hurrice Ian is expected to bring “life-threatening” storm surge waters across the west coast of Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Just south of Tampa will get the worst of it, with surge levels reaching up to 12 feet.
The rest of the state won’t be spared however. Large parts of the Florida coast, where major cities often lie at or below sea level, will face surges of up to five or six feet.
9/27 5pm ET UPDATE: Life-threatening storm surge from #Ian looks increasingly likely along the Florida west coast with the highest risk from Naples to the Sarasota region. Residents should follow evacuation orders from local officials & check https://t.co/0BMJEA5Wz0 for updates! pic.twitter.com/Rraunbyg68
— NHC Storm Surge (@NHC_Surge) September 27, 2022
Floridians play in flood waters and even wakeboard as Ian approaches
01:15 , Josh Marcus
It should go without saying, but don’t try this at home!
As Hurricane Ian rolls towards Florida, many residents have been heeding officials’ advice and preparing themselves to evacuate while avoiding rising waters.
Some, however, have taken the opposite approach.
Residents were captured playing in high waters and even wakeboarding down a flooded street as the hurricane heads towards the Sunshine State.
Children were seen playing in the ocean in Key West, Florida, on Tuesday – even as flooding and rough waters already started ahead of Hurricane Ian. https://t.co/puITeSnLOT
📹 : @GabrielleArzola / @CBSMiami pic.twitter.com/LFDhdVj8SZ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 27, 2022
— Ben Brahler (@BigBen_27) September 27, 2022
What’s it like flying through the eye of a hurricane?
01:00 , Josh Marcus
An amazing video clip shows National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration personnel flying a Lockheed WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter” plane nicknamed “Kermit” through the growing Hurricane Ian.
When you fly into a hurricane you also have to fly back out. That means punching back through the eyewall.
This was Hurricane #Ian this morning aboard Kermit (#NOAA42).
The pilot keeps the aircraft steady, the flight engineer in the middle maintains airspeed. pic.twitter.com/4XCuCr5BtU
— Tropical Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 27, 2022
The plane rattles as the three-person pilot crew steers the craft through the storm.
Here’s our recent piece on why scientists fly through such storms and what it’s like.
Zero fatalities as Hurricane Ian passes over Cuba
Wednesday 28 September 2022 00:45 , Josh Marcus
Cuba felt the full effect of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday, with the storm, expected to reach Category 4 soon, leaving 1 million without electricity and causing mass evacuations.
Cuban officials say they set up 55 shelters and transported 50,000 people out of harm’s way in Pinar del Río, a western province that got the worst of Hurricane Ian.
The island nation says it hasn’t suffered any fatalities so far as a result of the hurricane.
Hurricane Ian has just passed through Cuba leaving 1 million people without electricity. President @DiazCanelB is already in Pinar del Rio, the hardest hit province. Not one life was lost! 50K people were evacuated, crops were protected & emergency support is on hand. pic.twitter.com/Nf9yGd4axD
— Manolo De Los Santos (@manolo_realengo) September 27, 2022
Hurricane Ian generates tornado as it heads towards Florida
Wednesday 28 September 2022 00:30 , Josh Marcus
The center of Hurricane Ian hasn’t yet passed over Florida, but it’s already generating extreme weather.
A southwest Florida resident named Roger Felipe submitted a video to WINK news of a tornado developing along US 41 between Naples and Miami.
A tornado watch is in effect for much of the state.
🌪️SOUTHWEST FLORIDA TORNADO🌪️
Hurricane Ian producing tornadoes in #SWFL this afternoon. This was shot along US 41 between Naples and Miami...
📹: @winknews viewer Roger Felipe pic.twitter.com/c4xia4KCBE
— Greg Rule (@WXRules) September 27, 2022
Hurricane Ian: The planes flying directly into the center of the storm
Wednesday 28 September 2022 00:14 , Josh Marcus
As Hurricane Ian intensifies on its way toward the Florida coast, hurricane hunters are in the sky doing something almost unimaginable: flying through the center of the storm. With each pass, the scientists aboard these planes take measurements that satellites can’t and send them to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.
Jason Dunion, a University of Miami meteorologist, leads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2022 hurricane field program. He described the technology the team is using to gauge hurricane behavior in real time and the experience aboard a P-3 Orion as it plunges through the eyewall of a hurricane.
Read more of Mr Dunion’s fascinating piece for Voices.
WATCH: Livestream shows harbour in Key West as Hurricane Ian arrives
Tuesday 27 September 2022 23:45 , Josh Marcus
What’s it like being on the ground in Florida as Hurricane Ian approaches?
We’ve got a livestream from a harbour in Key West, which is feeling the storm even sooner than the rest of the state.
Watch below via The Independent’s YouTube.
Tornado watch in effect for south and central Florida
Tuesday 27 September 2022 23:30 , Josh Marcus
A tornado watch has been issued for much of south and central Florida as Hurricane Ian approaches the state.
Hurricanes bring an elevated risk of tornados forming as high-intensity thunderstorms sweep through, even on the periphery of the storm.
Footage shows people evacuating on Interstate 4
Tuesday 27 September 2022 23:18 , Ethan Freedman
Traffic on Interstate 4 in Florida is bringing people eastward out of Tampa toward Orlando as people evacuate Hurricane Ian.
Footage shows cars travelling on the shoulder, which has been opened to provide more lane for movement.
— FHP Tampa (@FHPTampa) September 27, 2022
Tuesday 27 September 2022 23:05 , Ethan Freedman
Slow pace of the storm will bring big hazards
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:54 , Ethan Freedman
The slow track of the storm will bring extended periods of rain and wind to central Florida, National Hurricane Centre Acting Director Jamie Rhome said in a Tuesday afternoon update.
Extreme amounts of rain are expected over the next few days across a swath of Florida from Tampa up through Jacksonville.
“Be ready to be in place and stay there,” Mr Rhome said.
‘The time is now'
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:48 , Ethan Freedman
Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, urged people in evacuation zones to leave now, as the hurricane comes in and people run out of time.
In addition, as weather conditions worsen, first responders will not be able to respond to calls, making evacuations all the more important, Mr Guthrie said.
Low, flat areas at high risk for flooding
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:45 , Ethan Freedman
The low, flat areas near Florida’s coast are at serious risk of flood as Hurricane Ian hits the state as a major hurricane.
Ocean levels are expected to rise up to 12 ft (3.7 metres) in some areas, as more than 15 inches (38 centimetres) of rain hits much of the central part of the state.
Dozens of school districts have closed
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:39 , Ethan Freedman
A total of 56 school districts in Florida have closed in anticipation of Hurricane Ian, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference on Tuesday
DeSantis gives update on Ian
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:35 , Ethan Freedman
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is giving an update on Hurricane Ian as the state buckles down for the storm
Parkland trial called off for remainder of week due to Hurricane Ian
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:28 , Ethan Freedman
The sentencing trial of Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz has been called off for the remainder of the week as Hurricane Ian continues on its path towards Florida.Judge Elizabeth Scherer announced on Tuesday afternoon that the court would be on recess on Wednesday and Thursday because of the incoming storm.Jurors will return to the courthouse on Monday.On Tuesday morning, the trial had been expected to carry on as planned with Broward County Courthouse saying that it had no plans to close at that time.However, Ian continued to strengthen throughout the day, with the category 3 storm already bringing impacts to Key West on Tuesday.
‘Project Phoenix’ anticipated major hurricane impact on Tampa
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:21 , Ethan Freedman
A planning exercise called “Project Phoenix” from 2009 simulated what would happen if a Category 5 hurricane hit the Tampa Bay area, the Associated Press reports.
The exercise helped local officials and businesses prepare for the impact of a potential major storm on the region, which has historically avoided a direct impact from most major hurricanes in the past century.
Hurricane Ian is expected to briefly reach Category 4 status before hitting Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm, with significant flooding, storm surge and wind potential.
Lightning flashes across Gulf of Mexico in satellite footage of Hurricane Ian
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:15 , Ethan Freedman
Satellites have captured Hurricane Ian’s rapid churning and lightining strikes as it crosses over the Gulf of Mexico and strenghthens on its way to Florida.
George issues state of emergency
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:12 , Ethan Freedman
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency for all counties in the state in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s impact on the state.
After the storm hits southwestern Florida, it’s projected to move northward into Georgia and South Carolina, bringing some of the heavy winds, rain and storm surge to those states.
Georgia’s State of Emergency will kick in early on Thursday morning, before the worst of the storm is expected. The Georgia coast is under tropical storm watches and warnings as of Tuesday evening.
Theme parks to close
Tuesday 27 September 2022 21:59 , Ethan Freedman
Sea World Orlando will also be closed, as will Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
The parks are planning to re-open on Friday, conditions permitting.
Tuesday 27 September 2022 21:51 , Ethan Freedman
It doesn’t get more serious than the dangers from storm surge.
Follow local evacuation orders.
If you don’t have a designated emergency location, find a shelter near you.
Serve as an example to others and help those most vulnerable.
Hope is not a plan. Prepare for the worst. pic.twitter.com/yd0QrfYTfy
— National Weather Service (@NWS) September 27, 2022
Traffic snarls evacuations
Tuesday 27 September 2022 21:30 , Ethan Freedman
Interstate 4 in Florida, which runs from Tampa to Orlando, has filled up with evacuees fleeing the Gulf Coast for the eastern side of the state.
Both parts of Florida are expecting to see impacts from the storm, but the worst – and earlier effects – will hit the Gulf Coast around Tampa Bay and southward as Hurricane Ian moves in later Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.
Tampa to issue curfew
Tuesday 27 September 2022 21:15 , Ethan Freedman
The City of Tampa will issue a curfew tonight, police chief Mary O’Connor said at a press conference on Tuesday.
She did not have details of exactly when that curfew would start, but said it would likely begin “sooner rather than later” as the storm neared closer and closer to the Tampa area.
Cities around Tampa Bay, including Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater are all expected to see some of the worst impacts of the storm, with storm surge up to eight feet (2.4 metres).
Florida man wakeboards down street in Hurricane Ian floodwaters
Tuesday 27 September 2022 21:10 , Ethan Freedman
Hurricane Ian is already bringing heavy rain to the Florida Keys in the far southern end of the state.
One resident was filmed wakeboarding on the flooded streets, pulled by a truck sloshing through the high waters.
Officials recommend that people stay inside during hurricane and tropical storm conditions.