Florida, USA.- Hurricane “Ian” quickly gained strength this Wednesday off the southwestern coast of Florida, with maximum winds of up to 250 km / h, and bordering on the dangerous category 5. Strong winds and downpours hit the populated Florida coast of the Gulf of Mexico, with Naples and Sarasota at “maximum risk” of devastating storm surge.
Hurricane hunters from the United States Air Force confirmed that “Ian” strengthened over the warm waters of the gulf after sweeping Cuba, where it knocked out the power grid and caused a widespread blackout on the island.
The meteor could cause a storm surge of up to 3.6 meters, said the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC), based in Miami, which asked the population to evacuate the danger zone if they can. The authorities ordered the mandatory evacuation of more than 2.5 million people, although legally the eviction cannot be forced.
As of 7:00 a.m., “Ian’s” vortex was about 105 kilometers west-southwest of Naples and moving toward the coast at 17 km/h.
Floridians scrambled to board up their homes and store their most precious belongings on the upper floors before leaving.
“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair, who drove inland from the Tampa area Tuesday with his wife, son, dog and two cats looking for a hotel in the tourist district of Orlando. “We live in a high-risk area, so we thought it best to evacuate.”
Tropical storm force winds of 63 km/h reached Florida at 3:00 a.m., with the first hurricane-force winds at 6:00 a.m., well before the storm. Up to 18 inches of rain could fall near your entrance area.
“It’s a strong storm, it’s going to dump a lot of water during its arrival,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told a news conference in Sarasota, a coastal city of 57,000 people that is on Ian’s likely path. “And that kind of storm surge is dangerous.”
“Ian’s” advance slowed over the Gulf, allowing it to grow in size and intensity. The hurricane warnings covered approximately 350 kilometers of the state’s west coast, including Fort Myers, Tampa and St. Petersburg, which could experience the first direct hit by a Category 3 or greater hurricane since 1921.
Gil González did not play it. He protected the windows of his Tampa home with plywood and had sandbags ready to deal with flooding. He and his wife filled their car with bottled water, flashlights, extra batteries for their cell phones and a portable heater before leaving their home.
“All the prized possessions we have put upstairs in a friend’s house,” Gonzalez said.
Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West airports were closed. The Disney World and Sea World theme parks in Orlando also did not open due to the meteor.
Because Tropical Storm Ian’s tropical storm-force winds extend 140 miles from its vortex, they are expected to cause damage across a wide area of Florida. Flash flooding could also be seen across the state and parts of its eastern coastline face the threat of storm surge as Ian’s bands move closer to the Atlantic Ocean. The proximity of the storm also activated warnings for possible isolated tornadoes.
Where it will make landfall was not immediately clear.
The utility company Florida Power and Light warned that those in Ian’s path could go days without power. As a precaution, hundreds of residents of nursing homes have been evacuated in Tampa, where hospitals are transferring some patients.
Parts of Georgia and South Carolina could experience flooding and storm surge between Friday and Saturday.
Before heading to Florida, “Ian” made landfall on Tuesday in the Cuban province of Pinar del Río with maximum sustained winds of 205 km/h and caused destruction in the most important tobacco area on the island.