Hurricane Ian – live: Cuba hit by total blackout as 2 million evacuate in Florida

Hurricane Ian – live: Cuba hit by total blackout as 2 million evacuate in Florida

Two people have died and the power supply has been severed to Cuba’s entire population of 11 million after Hurricane Ian hammered one of the island’s main power plants.

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).

Key Points

  • ‘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.

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.

 (National Hurricane Centre)
(National Hurricane Centre)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

The House January 6 select committee will postpone the hearing scheduled for Wednesday on account of Hurricane Ian, The Independent has learned.

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.

January 6 committee hearing postponed due to Hurricane Ian

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.

Scores of flights delayed as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida

04:58 , Josh Marcus

Tampa Bay International Airport announced that it would be shutting on Tuesday afternoon as Hurricane Ian moves towards Florida.

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.

Tampa International Airport to close Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Ian

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.

Disney evacuates hotels and shuts down some parks as Hurricane Ian approaches

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.

As the world’s average temperature increases and sea levels rise, hurricanes are expected to become stronger — and the damage more catastrophic, scientists say.

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

Satellites are capturing the enormous Hurricane Ian from space as the Category 3 storm barrels towards the Florida coast.

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.

As of midday Tuesday (EST), the storm was moving at 10mph over Havana in the direction of Key West with maximum sustained winds of about 115mph.

Cuba was lashed with heavy rain and winds overnight, bringing the threat of coastal surges, flash flooding and landslides.

Louise Boyle has the details.

Satellite images reveal monstrous Category 3 Hurricane Ian from space

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hurricane Ian: The planes flying into the eye of the storm

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 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.

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.

Hurricane Ian: The planes flying into the eye of the storm

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.

Tuesday 27 September 2022 23:05 , Ethan Freedman

The expected landfall and path of Hurricane Ian over the next few days (NHC/NOAA)
The expected landfall and path of Hurricane Ian over the next few days (NHC/NOAA)

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.

Indian Shores, Florida runs along a barrier island in the Tampa Bay area (AFP via Getty Images)
Indian Shores, Florida runs along a barrier island in the Tampa Bay area (AFP via Getty Images)
Island Estate in Clearwater, Florida has a low-elevation group of islands with homes on them, which are at serious risk of flooding from Hurricane Ian (AFP via Getty Images)
Island Estate in Clearwater, Florida has a low-elevation group of islands with homes on them, which are at serious risk of flooding from Hurricane Ian (AFP via Getty Images)

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

Follow here:

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.

AP has more

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

Disney-branded theme parks in Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort will be closing on Wednesday and Thursday as Hurricane Ian moves through the state, the companies said Tuesday afternoon.

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

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.

Eastbound traffic on I-4 in central Florida has filled with cars evacuating Hurricane Ian on Tuesday (Getty Images)
Eastbound traffic on I-4 in central Florida has filled with cars evacuating Hurricane Ian on Tuesday (Getty Images)
People wait in eastbound traffic on Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando (AP)
People wait in eastbound traffic on Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando (AP)

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.