CAYO COSTA, FLA. — Hurricane Ian strengthened into “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm Wednesday morning before making landfall early this afternoon.
Ian officially made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida shortly before 3:30 p.m.
Ian is currently a major hurricane packing 150-mph winds with gusts up to 190 mph. That is just a few mph shy of a Category 5 storm.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz said the storm is expected to move across Florida over the next 24 hours, then make a second landfall as a tropical storm near Savannah on Friday.
Video from Fort Myers showed streets inundated with storm surge and cars and buildings floating down the street as Ian made its way inland.
Severe Weather Team 2 will have LIVE updates on the storm’s path as it moves toward Georgia, RIGHT NOW on Channel 2 Action News.
“This part of the Gulf of Mexico has a bad hurricane history this time of year and Ian is going to become part of that history,” Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan says.
Channel 2 Action News has multiple crews in Florida to cover the storm.
Channel 2′s Michele Newell was in Tampa Wednesday, where much of the water in Tampa Bay receded Wednesday morning. The water will return with a force, creating a very dangerous situation and catastrophic flooding by Wednesday night.
“We’re going to see downed trees, we’re going to see flooding, we’re going to see power outages,” mayor Jane Castor said. “So please, please do not let your guard down.”
More than 20 inches of rainwater will hit Tampa Bay Wednesday evening with Category 1 winds.
Fire chief Barbara Tripp is asking people to stay off the streets.
“Stay safe, because we will not be able to get emergency services to you for the safety of you as well as our public safety first responders,” Tripp said.
Early Wednesday afternoon, people were still out taking pictures of the eerie sight of the Bay retreating.
“Just taking pictures of the low tide,” Austin Carter said. “I remember it was 2017 it was like this too.”
Hurricane Irma impacted the same area in 2017, leaving behind around $50 billion in damage and killing 84 people.
Monahan says the storm should track across central and north Florida and then along the Georgia coast Friday and Saturday.
[INTERACTIVE: StormTracker 2HD Radar]
In Georgia, a tropical storm warning and tropical storm watch are in effect along the coastal counties. Gov. Brian Kemp declared a State of Emergency statewide due to the potential of flooding, downed trees, powerlines and debris.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz said Georgia’s coast will see up to six feet of storm surge. Eastern parts of Georgia may see winds gusting to up to 40 mph.
Metro Atlanta will see up to three inches of rain and winds possibly gusting to 35 mph.
Here is what else to know about Ian on Wednesday:
- Ian will slowly crawl across Florida on Wednesday and Thursday. The storm is expected to push through Georgia Friday and Saturday.
- In southeast Georgia, between 5 and 9 inches of rainfall is possible.
- Up to 6 feet of peak storm surge is possible on Georgia coast.
- In metro Atlanta, the amount of rain will depend on Ian’s shift and where it hits south Georgia.
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