Hurricane Ian Updates: Key West Airport to Reopen Thursday at 7 a.m.

Live Updates
  • Hurricane Ian officially made landfall in Florida Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said 2.5 million Floridians evacuated their homes ahead of Ian's landfall.
  • The massive storm has already left more than one million customers without power in Florida, canceled hundreds of flights and caused major flooding.
  • After the storm hit Cuba on Tuesday, state media reported that a power outage caused a blackout impacting the entire island. Rain and flash flooding have also caused dangerous conditions across the country.

Live updates for this event have ended.

Key West Airport to Reopen Thursday at 7 a.m.

Key West International Airport announced Wednesday evening that it was going to reopen at 7 a.m. on Thursday, despite Hurricane Ian continuing to hit Florida.

"Key West International Airport is set to reopen at 7 a.m. Thursday, September 29. Please contact your airline regarding flights and changes and continue monitoring the path of Hurricane Ian," the airport listed on its front page.

While Key West International Airport is planning to reopen, other Florida airports had closed, according to CNN. Tampa International Airport closed and taid there would be no flights through Thursday. Miami International Airport, however, remained open.

Key West was hit hard beginning Tuesday night, with streets flooded. However, according to the National Hurricane Center's Storm Surge Center, Key West has likely seen the worst of Ian as the hurricane moves inland. As of the 8 p.m. EDT update, Key West was no longer in the wind radii of Ian.

Over 2 Million Floridians Without Power

Over 2 million Floridans are without power, according to PowerOutage.us, as Hurricane Ian rages on.

As of 10:23 p.m. local time, 2,002,007 people in Florida are in the dark. The map even lists DeSoto County as having only one customer who still has power out of 18,739 tracked.

When Hurricane Ian first made landfall, an hour later, 1 million customers were without power, and that number has nearly doubled over the last six hours. There are just under 150,000 customers in Florida across eight providers that are not tracked by PowerOutage.us.

Though over 1 million of Florida Power and Light Company's 5.7 million customers are without power, smaller companies have been hit harder For example, 202,000 of Lee County Electric Coop's 219,000 customers are without power, the site says, and 47,000 of Peace River Electric Coop's 55,000 customers don't have power.

Ian Could Cause $3.8 Billion in Claims, Florida Insurer Estimates

Hurricane Ian could lead to 225,000 claims to one insurance company, which also estimated the claims could cost as much as $3.8 billion.

A spokesperson for Citizens Property Insurance, a state-run insurer, told the Associated Press that it expects that it will be hit with $3.8 billion in losses—however, that estimate was made before the storm made landfall, and could change.

Though the damages are expected to be in the billions of dollars, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters that the company should be able to pay out with no problem.

"Their modeling, based on paying out a lot of money in claims for this, was that they would still have between 4 and 5 billion in surplus. So they view themselves as being able to weather this," DeSantis said.

This amount also doesn't include flood damage, as home insurance doesn't cover flooding, according to the Associated Press. Instead, flooding is handled by a federal program. While flood insurance is recommended for people in flood zones, and often required for mortgaged homes, some who own their homes decline to be covered.

Talladega Superspeedway Opens to Ian Evacuees

The Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama has opened some of its campgrounds to people who have had to evacuate due to Hurricane Ian.

The GEICO North, South and West C Parks are the campgrounds officials opened, according to WRBL-TV. Showers and bathrooms will also be available. The North Park is the largest of the three.

"We at Talladega Superspeedway are committed to helping our friends in Florida, Alabama, and the surrounding states during this time of need," Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton said in a press statement. "We hope to provide a sense of relief by offering a place to stay for no charge for evacuees during this time of adversity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the path of the storm."

The campgrounds will be offered free, and people can bring campers and trailers in addition to standard vehicles. However, there are no commercial vehicles allowed, according to a press release. Camping stickers will be available on-site.

New York Sends Two Helicopters, 11 National Guard Members to Florida

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is sending members of the state's Army National Guard and two helicopters to Florida in order to help with Hurricane Ian.

Hochul announced that in addition to the 11 service members, New York will send two CH-047F Chinook heavy lift helicopters. They will arrive in Jacksonville, the governor said.

"As Hurricane Ian hits the Florida coast, I join all New Yorkers in praying for the safety and well-being of every individual who will be impacted by this terrifying storm," Hochul said. "We are grateful for the heroism of these New Yorkers who are answering the call of duty, as well as for the extraordinary efforts of all first responders currently working to provide aid and support to the people of Florida. New York will always stand up and help our neighbors in a time of need."

Ian Weakens to Category 3 Storm, But Winds of 100 mph Reported

As of the 7 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian has weakened to a Category 3 storm. While this is a downgrade from the Category 4 storm it was when it made landfall on Wednesday, winds have been reported to still be stronger than 100 mph.

Part of the issue that makes Hurricane Ian so dangerous is that it is a slow-moving hurricane. The storm is only moving at 8 mph, the NHC reported. Winds were reported near Port Charlotte by a private weather station to be at about 115 mph, with gusts as strong as 132 mph.

What the Biden Administration Can Do if Hurricane Ian Causes Price Gouging

President Joe Biden warned oil companies that his administration will take action if they use Hurricane Ian as excuse to raise prices at the pump. However, it's not yet clear what Biden's plans are for cracking down on potential price gouging.

Biden, speaking at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on Wednesday, said Hurricane Ian will cause only a small disruption to oil production and that he will not tolerate energy companies profiting off the natural disaster. Biden's remarks come as gas prices have fallen, boosting the president's political prospects. However, the federal government has limited tools to directly address price gouging and states are expected to protect consumers as the storm continues to travel up the coast.

Read more here.

Virginia Governor Declares State of Emergency as Ian Set to Hit State Friday

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency in his state as Hurricane Ian is expected to enter Virginia on Friday.

"Hurricane Ian is a large, powerful storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia later this week into early next week," Youngkin said in a press release. "We want to ensure that our communities have the resources needed to respond to and recover from any potential effects from the storm. While we recognize that the storm track is still uncertain, I nevertheless encourage all Virginians and visitors to make a plan, have supplies on hand, and follow official sources for the latest forecast information and guidance. Suzanne and I will be praying for those in Florida in the path of the storm."

Executive Order 22 goes into effect Wednesday evening. Virginians are urged to plan how to get to a safe place and stay in contact ahead of the storm, and to put together an emergency kit, including a three-day supply of food and water—including pet food; a week's worth of medication and printed copies of prescriptions; blankets and warm clothes; and emergency cash, among other items.

Video Shows Roof Ripped Off Punta Gorda Motel

Hurricane Ian has ripped the roof off a motel in Punta Gorda, Florida, according to video from Weather Channel reporter Charles Peek.

Peek posted the clip to his Twitter account. In the clip, he says that though the roof fell on two people staying in the motel, there is only one person who was injured—and their injuries were minor.

The motel owner said the roof was ripped off of the structure within 15 to 20 minutes.

In an earlier clip, Weather Channel reporter Jim Cantore was hit with a tree branch while reporting from Punta Gorda as wind gusts hit up to 110 miles per hour, according to the on-screen chyron.

Hurricane Ian Sparks Criticisms of DeSantis' Hurricane Sandy Response

All eyes are on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he attempts to lead his home state out of the "catastrophic" storm that is Hurricane Ian this week. But as the governor looks to the federal government for additional aid, his critics drew comparisons between DeSantis' requests to the Biden administration and his previous voting records on disaster relief.

"Just a reminder to New York...Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis (who was in Congress at the time) voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy," New York State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou tweeted on Wednesday. "But because we are New York, we care about everyone. Even when they don't care about us. ❤️"

"Just a reminder that, when he was in Congress and Sandy had devastated the tristate, Ron DeSantis voted against Federal aid. (Not suggesting Dems should now do [the] same. Just pointing out he's always been a heartless little s--t.)," author Stephen Whitty wrote on Twitter.

Read more here.

Fort Myers Sets Curfew As Storm Breaks Surge Records

The City of Fort Myers issued an emergency curfew Wednesday evening after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida and started moving into the state.

The citywide curfew began at 6 p.m. ET and was set to last for 48 hours, ending at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Several videos and photos of the hurricane's early impact on Fort Myers spread on social media Wednesday, showing cars submerged in floodwater near Fort Myers Beach.

Storm surge exceeded 7 feet by Wednesday evening in parts of Fort Myers, thus setting new storm surge records for the area, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data assessed by The Weather Channel.

The National Hurricane Center predicts storm surge levels will reach between 12 and 18 feet along parts of Florida's southwestern coast before the storm is over.

Storm Surge to Reach 12 to 18 Feet in Parts of FL

A "catastrophic" storm surge was ongoing Wednesday evening and expected to reach 12 to 18 feet above ground in sections of the southwestern Florida coast, according to the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) Storm Surge Unit.

The areas anticipated to be impacted most by storm surge are locations between Englewood and Bonita Beach, the center said.

The NHC shared a map outlining anticipated storm surge levels along the coasts in Florida. The stretch of land between Englewood and Bonita Beach is expected to see the greatest amount of storm surge, but the spots along the coast right above and below that section of land are also expected to get up to 12 feet of storm surge. Between 3 and 6 feet of storm surge is also expected to impact Georgia and South Carolina later this week.

As it makes its way through Florida, Hurricane Ian will "likely bring life-threatening storm surge on Thursday & Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, & South Carolina," where the NHC said storm surge warnings are currently in effect. The center urged residents of the impacted areas to follow guidance from local officials on how to respond to the approaching hurricane.

DeSantis Says Ian to Be One of Top 5 FL Storms

After Hurricane Ian made landfall in southern Florida Wednesday afternoon, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis predicted it will become one of the top five hurricanes to impact the Florida peninsula.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida as a Category 4 storm, but DeSantis said at a Wednesday evening press conference that it is still possible Hurricane Ian could turn into a Category 5 hurricane as it moves further into the state.

"But at a minimum, it's going to be a very strong Category 4 that's going to rank as one of the top five hurricanes to ever hit the Florida peninsula," DeSantis said.

He later said many people in Florida have compared Hurricane Ian to Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida in August 2004.

"This is way, way, way bigger than Charley," DeSantis said. "It was as strong as Charley coming in. But Charley was much smaller."

Rubio, Scott Urge WH to Declare Major Disaster

Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida signed a letter addressed to President Joe Biden calling for the White House to approve a major disaster declaration across the state's 67 counties as Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference earlier Wednesday that he planned to submit a major disaster declaration covering the entire state. The declaration would enable all counties to receive reimbursement from the federal government for hurricane-related costs.

Rubio, Scott and the rest of their state's delegation all signed the letter, a copy of which Rubio shared on his office's website. The letter acknowledged the "historic size" of the hurricane and the flooding, power outages and "widespread damage" that is expected to inundate the state as the storm passes through.

"As such, we request that you promptly approve Governor DeSantis' request for a Major Disaster Declaration for all of Florida's 67 counties," the letter said.

The letter continued by saying it was impossible to immediately know the extent of the damage Hurricane Ian would cause but said approving the major disaster declaration "will allow Floridians to be better prepared for the recovery phase."

Over One Million Customers Without Power in Florida

Over one million customers are without power in Florida.

There are 1,079,004 power outages reported across the southwestern part of the state, according to PowerOutage.us.

More than half of customers in Collier County are experiences outages. More than 60 percent of customers are without power in Charlotte and Sarasota Counties. In Lee County, more than 70 percent of customers have lost power.

Here is the outage breakdown by county:

  • Collier County: 152,659 outages
  • Hendry County: 4,805 outages
  • Glades County: 1,1919 outages
  • Lee County: 339,059 outages
  • Charlotte County: 82,708 outages
  • DeSoto County: 2,810 outages
  • Sarasota County: 182,550 outages
  • Hardee County: 1,788 outages
  • Manatee County: 71,401 outages
  • Hillsborough County: 31,264 outages
  • Pinellas County: 107,227 outages

Most of Florida's major utility companies are also reporting major outages.

Florida Power and Light Company is reporting nearly 719,039 outages, Duke Energy has 125,148 outages and Lee County Electric Company has nearly 154,897 outages.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said there are more than 42,000 linemen staged for power restoration efforts across the state once the storm has passed.

DeSantis said crews cannot start working to restore power until after the storm has passed.

Coast Guard Looking for Migrants Lost in Storm

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard are still searching for migrants after their boat sank during an attempted landing off of Florida's southern coast.

Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol and officers with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in the Florida Keys received calls of a migrant landing at Stock Island Wednesday morning, according to Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar with the Border Patrol's Miami Sector.

Four migrants from Cuba "swam to shore after their vessel sank due to inclement weather," Slosar said on Twitter. Twenty-three other individuals were still missing, Slosar said, and the U.S. Coast Guard was called in to assist in rescue efforts.

At about 3:30 p.m. ET, the Coast Guard said officials conducted water rescues of three people who were found about two miles south of Boca Chica. "They were brought to the local hospital for symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration," the Coast Guard said in a Wednesday afternoon tweet.

The search for other migrants who had been on the vessel that sank was ongoing, the Coast Guard said.

NOAA Satellite Captures Ian's Landfall

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) captured the moment Hurricane Ian made landfall on the west coast of Florida.

The satellite footage shows the eye of the storm as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico to Cayo Costa, FL.

South Carolina Declares State of Emergency

South Carolina has declared a state of emergency Wednesday as the state braces for Hurricane Ian's impact.

Governor Henry McMaster said state agencies are working together in preparation for the storm's potential impact.

"It's still too early to know exactly how Hurricane Ian will affect South Carolina, but preparations at the state level are well underway, and this declaration of emergency is another step in that process," McMaster said in a statement.

While the path and the intensity of the storm remains uncertain, McMaster said he knows the state will see "a lot of rain and significant storm surge on our coastline over the coming days."

"Now is the time for each South Carolina to make plans for every contingency and be prepared," he said.

South Carolina's coast has been placed under a Tropical Storm warning, Storm Surge Warning and a Hurricane Watch.

The hurricane is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina by Thursday.

The area is expected to receive three to five feet of storm surge, high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

Transformer Seen Exploding in Naples

A transformer explosion was caught on video in Naples Wednesday morning as residents prepared for Hurricane Ian to make landfall.

The Naples Police Department (NPD) shared a video clip showing the explosion on social media with a warning for locals to "stay off the roads" amid the intensifying weather conditions.

The video was filmed inside a vehicle that was idling across the street from where the explosion occurred. Bursts of flame and smoke could be seen coming from the transformer as rain fell all around it.

"Please stay off the roads in Naples until the storm has passed. The roads are unsafe," the NPD wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the video.

As Hurricane Ian made its approach on Wednesday, the number of customers without power in Florida began quickly ticking upward. By 3:55 p.m. ET, PowerOutage.US reported an estimated 850,148 customers throughout the state had lost power.

38K views, 105 likes, 0 loves, 72 comments, 515 shares, Facebook Watch Videos from Naples Fire-Rescue Department: Please stay off the roads in Naples until the storm has passed. The roads are unsafe....

Punta Gorda Hit With 106mph Winds

Punta Gorda is experiencing high, destructive winds as Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

Wind gusts of over 100 mph have been reported in the area as the city braces for life-threatening storm surge and flooding.

The Charlotte County Airport reported 106 mph gusts in Punta Gorda. Charlotte County is currently under an extreme wind warning.

The wind has ripped down road and business signs, air duct grates from parking garages and the sidings of buildings, according to WFTX-TV reporter Kaitlin Knapp.

Building Seen Floating Away in Fort Myers

A video shared on social media Wednesday afternoon showed the roof of a building floating as floodwater dragged it and other debris along a current in Fort Myers, Florida.

The video, which reporters shared online and credited to Loni Architects, was reported as being filmed near Fort Myers Beach and Estero Boulevard. It showed floodwater levels climbing up the sides of houses and other buildings before Hurricane Ian made landfall. Water levels had nearly reached the roofs of many buildings seen in the footage.

As the camera panned from left to right, a cluster of debris that looked like it might have been part of a building could be seen next to a couple of other buildings that were still standing. Nearby, a roof could be seen floating along the surface of the floodwater as it moved with the current.

Several other photos and videos depicted the scene near Fort Myers Beach as the hurricane moved closer. In one photo, floodwater had nearly reached the roof of a single-story home. A reporter with WRAL-TV who re-shared the photo on Twitter said the individual whose family member lives inside the home had not evacuated.

Outside the Pink Shell Resort along Fort Myers Beach, the floodwater could be seen engulfing vehicles and swirling debris around the edges of buildings as the current moved past.

Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall

Hurricane Ian has officially made landfall on Florida's west coast Wednesday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center reports the storm made landfall near Cayo Costa, FL at 3:05 p.m. EDT as a Category 4 hurricane.

Ian's maximum sustained winds were estimated to be near 150 mph, according to data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft.

"I wish this wasn't a forecast that we had to make," National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said in a tweet. "I wish this wasn't what is unfolding."

Watch as NASA Streams Storm Flyover

The International Space Station will fly over Hurricane Ian soon.

NASA will stream the flyover live on its website Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET, or watch live below. NASA will hold another flyover of the storm tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. ET.

Over 600,000 Customers Without Power in Florida

Power outages across southwest Florida have now exceeded 600,000, as of 2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday.

There are currently 644,613 customers without power as Hurricane Ian is about to make landfall, according to PowerOutage.us.

  • Collier County: 99,609
  • Lee County: 226,021
  • Charlotte County: 28,957
  • DeSoto County: 1,460
  • Hardee County: 486
  • Sarasota County: 78,801
  • Manatee County: 46,949
  • Hillsborough County: 31,229
  • Pinellas: 59,998

Florida Power and Light Company is reporting 400, 518 outages, Lee County Electric Corp is reporting 126,299 outages and Duke Energy is reporting 63,703 outages.

Naples Issues Citywide Curfew

A citywide curfew was implemented in Naples on Wednesday as the city braced for the arrival of Hurricane Ian.

The Naples Police Department (NPD) posted a notice about the curfew on the department's Twitter account shortly before 1:30 p.m. ET.

The city issued the emergency curfew "to protect and safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of City of Naples residents, visitors, and first responders," the NPD's tweet said. Police said the curfew is in effect "immediately" and will remain in place "until further notice." The department shared a photo showing that showing floodwater already rising in the area.

Shortly after alerting the public about the citywide curfew, the NPD encouraged people in Naples to stop driving due to flooding already impacting several roads. The department said it will be updating a list of roads impacted by floodwater on its Facebook page.

Vehicles Submerged in Floodwater in Fort Myers

Videos shared Wednesday afternoon on social media showed flooding in Fort Myers as Hurricane Ian made its approach.

One video credited to Loni Architects that was shared online by local reporters showed the scene from above as floodwater surrounded buildings and submerged vehicles. It was unclear from the video exactly how high the floodwater level was at the time the video was taken and if the vehicles were already floating along the surface or if the current was moving around them.

Another video taken outside the Lani Kai Island Resort along Fort Myers Beach showed a strong current appearing to rush onshore as trash and other debris floated along the surface. The wind could be seen whipping the trees and moving road signs as the water rushed past buildings.

DeSantis to Submit Major Disaster Declaration

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he is submitting a major disaster declaration that will cover all 67 counties in Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian's landfall.

DeSantis announced his plans for the declaration during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. Once approved, the declaration will allow all counties to receive reimbursement of "100 percent of the up-front" hurricane-related costs from the federal government for the first 60 days after the storm hits, DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the declaration will "ensure that we can quickly recover and move forward" as the state begins the recovery process.

Over 2,000 Flights Canceled in the U.S.

Over 2,000 flights have been canceled in the U.S. Wednesday as Hurricane Ian is about to make landfall.

The total number of cancellations within, into or out of the U.S. hit 2,102 as of 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. The site also lists nearly 1,500 delays in the U.S.

Flights into Florida have also been canceled.

There have been 386 canceled flights scheduled to arrive at Orlando, 216 flights to Miami that were canceled, 178 flights to Tampa that have been canceled and 99 flights to Fort Lauderdale that have been canceled. Orlando International Airport closed commercial operations at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning.

Major airlines, including Southwest, United and JetBlue, are reporting flight disruptions.

United Airlines said it will cancel flights out of Florida as it begins to "shutter operations" on the Atlantic coast of Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Ian's landfall, according to CNN reporter Pete Muntean.

The Eyewall Has 'Intersected the Coast'

The National Weather Service (NWS) said the eyewall of Hurricane Ian has "intersected the coast."

The NWS said the hurricane is expected to make landfall at Sanibel, FL.

The storm will bring extreme winds, heavy rain and storm surge up to 18 feet in some areas on Florida's west coast.

Naples Grande Beach reported wind gusts of 111 mph as storm surges have already reached almost five feet in the area.

An Extreme Wind Warning has been extended from Lee County to Charlotte and Sarasota Counties until 2 p.m. This covers the Englewood are through Boca Grande.

Biden Warns Companies Against Spiking Gas Prices

President Joe Biden issued a warning for oil and gas industry executives about hiking gas prices in the U.S. as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida.

"Do not—let me repeat—do not," Biden said Wednesday morning while speaking at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. "Do not use this as an excuse to raise gasoline prices," he continued.

Gas prices reached record highs earlier this year as a result of Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine. Gas prices often rise when severe weather occurs in response to concerns about the impacts storms can have on gas supply and accessibility.

The national average gas price, which the American Automobile Association listed as at $3.77 on Wednesday, has declined in recent weeks, but CNN reported that oil prices had increased by about 2.4 percent on Tuesday morning as the hurricane moved closer to Florida.

Tornado Flips Planes at North Perry Airport

A tornado, resulting from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, struck an airport in southeastern Florida Tuesday evening and flipped several aircraft.

More than 15 planes were damaged at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, airport officials told WTVJ-TV. Hangars were also damaged.

One of the station's reporters said the tornado began in the Miami Gardens area before moving north to Pembroke Pines, where it caused damage at parts of the airport before moving further north to Cooper City. No injuries have been reported at this time.

Airplane overturned by suspected tornado in Florida
An airplane overturned by a likely tornado produced by the outer bands of Hurricane Ian is shown on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

Total Traffic Miami shared photos and a video of the damaged aircraft on social media after the tornado passed through the area. Several small aircraft were seen overturned on the airfield in the video, some with their wings cracked and bent. Photos also depicted small planes looking crumpled and battered, many turned upside down from the force of the tornado.

Storm Eyewall Approaching Land

An extreme wind warning has been issued ahead of Hurricane Ian's landfall on the west coast of Florida.

National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Jaime Rhome said this advisory means the eyewall and extreme winds are "about to move onshore."

The NHC said the eyewall is expected to hit landfall at Sanibel and Captiva Islands, according to the noon update.

Ian will cause "catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding" in the Florida Peninsula soon, the NHC said.

Central Lee County, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs are under the wind advisory as Ian is expected to make landfall in that areas within the next few hours.

The eyewall of the storm is already causing "catastrophic" wind damage, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

The NWS said this is an "extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation."

"The safest place to be during a major landfalling hurricane is in a reinforced interior room away from windows," the NWS said in its latest bulletin. "Remain in place through the passage of these life-threatening conditions."

Maximum sustained winds remain at 155 mph with some higher gusts.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the
center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles, the NHC said.

WATCH: National Hurricane Center Briefing

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is providing an update as Hurricane Ian nears landfall in Florida.

NHC Acting Director Jamie Rhome is tracking Ian's path and what is expected in the hours to come. The briefing began around noon on Wednesday, watch live below:

Tampa Under Mandatory Evacuations

Much of the city of Tampa remains under mandatory evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian approaches the coast.

Zones A and B are under mandatory evacuation orders as heavy winds and rain move into the area.

The city urges residents to stay off the roads and shelter in place.

The Tampa Bay area is under high wind, heavy rain, storm surge and tornado warnings until Thursday.

Winds of 110 mph, 10 to 15 inches of rain and five to 10 feet of storm surge is expected in the area.

Waters near Tampa Bay have receded in what appears to be the opposite of storm surge.

Officials are warning residents that "the water will come back."

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor will be under life-threatening storm surge risk.

"Please do not attempt to walk there or any other location with receding water," the National Weather Service station in Tampa Bay said in a tweet.

Fort Myers Live Cam Shows Hurricane Approaching

Live video footage shows the weather conditions in Fort Myers intensifying as Hurricane Ian makes its approach.

Some of the live cams operated by local restaurants and hotels were not operational by midday Wednesday, but a Skyline live cam near the Lani Kai Island Resort shows high winds whipping palm trees along the beach and stirring the waves just below. The ocean and sky appear in the footage as a dark gray as Fort Myers braces for Hurricane Ian to arrive.

【LIVE】 Webcam Fort Myers Beach - Florida | SkylineWebcams

Another live cam working earlier in the day and shared on social media by local reporters showed similar images of high winds churning the water and puling at trees along the water's edge. Some waves were large enough to shoot water over and beyond a footbridge.

Red Cross On Standby in Florida

The American Red Cross is on standby to provide aid in Florida as Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

"Grab your medication, your glasses, your important documents and the like. Check on your neighbors and please don't wait out the storm if you're being told to evacuate — it's dangerous," American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern said at a press briefing with FEMA.

She said there are thousands of first responders ready to be deployed to Florida and the other impacted states.

Teams have brought in food and medical aid and opened several evacuation shelters.

"We know that for many of you, recovery from Hurricane Ian will likely be a very long road and your American Red Cross will be there," McGovern said.

National Weather Service Says Ian Will Be 'Devastating'

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said water is the most dangerous part of hurricanes.

"When it comes to hurricanes, water is dangerous. Period. From coastal storm surge to inland flooding," FEMA Director Deanna Criswell said during a press briefing Wednesday.

She said "the majority of the state of Florida is in Ian's crosshairs."

Criswell said residents in the impacted areas should avoid driving through standing or moving water.

"It only takes only a few inches of water to carry away a vehicle," she said.

She also advises residents to find high ground if they are sheltering in an area where water is rising and never operate generators inside the home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

FEMA has staged 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water in Alabama ready for Ian's landfall, Criswell said. There are also 300 ambulances and federal medical teams ready to assist where they are needed.

Criswell said search and rescue efforts are a priority.

She said about 30 percent of the population that will be affected by the storm are older adults.

"That's why we've put in place this really robust search and rescue capability of government to complement the amazing efforts at the state already has in urban search and rescue teams and the National Guard,'' she said.

National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said Hurricane Ian's forecast is daunting. He said this storm will be "historic" and have "devastating" impacts.

"I wish this wasn't a forecast that I had to deliver," he said. "You really look at this — I wish this wasn't the forecast that's about to come true."

Graham said this is going to be "a storm that we talk about for many years to come."

Winds are currently at 155 mph. Hurricane-force winds can be felt 35 miles out from the center of the storm. Tropical storm winds can be felt 150 miles from the center.

As the storm slows down after making landfall, Graham said it will compound the heavy rain and storm surge.

There will be 24 hours of heavy rain and strong winds, Graham said. The NWS is estimating 10 to 15 inches of rain in inland areas, with some areas receiving two feet of rain.

There is also life-threatening storm surge expected in some coastal areas.

From Inglewood to Bonita Beach, 12 to 18 feet of storm surge is forecasted.

"That's above ground. That's up your pant leg," Graham said. "That's a dangerous, life-threatening amount of storm surge."

The storm surge will block rain water drainage, leading to flooding. Tornadoes and powerline damage also remain an issues in parts of southern Florida, Graham said.

Over 200k Without Power in Florida

Southwest Florida is already experiencing widespread power outages.

According to PowerOutage.us, there are 205,640 customers in Florida without power, mostly in southwestern counties. Florida Power and Light Company alone is reporting 155,704 outages.

This includes 42,000 outages in Collier County, almost 39,000 in Lee County and over 28,000 in Sarasota County. Major outages have also been reported in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.

These figures are constantly being updated.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said crews are on standby to restore power once Hurricane Ian has passed.

There are more than 30,000 lineman from all major state utility companies "staged and ready" for power restoration efforts across the states, he said during a press briefing Wednesday. They will only be able to get in an access after the storm has passed.

"That's going to be a priority," DeSantis said.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge Closed

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is now closed in both directions.

The Florida Highway Patrol announced the closure just before 8 a.m. ET Wednesday, saying it will remain closed "until inclement weather from Hurricane Ian subsides."

The FHP Tampa tweeted a photo of the empty bridge across Lower Tampa Bay Wednesday morning, as conditions deteriorated.

Flooding Already Reported in Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are already feeling the impacts of Hurricane Ian as the massive storm approaches Florida's west coast.

The Keys remain under a Tropical Storm Warning as wind gusts this morning hit 50 to 60 mph.

Flood watches for excessive rainfall are also in effect, according to the National Weather Service.

"After the winds subside, there will still be strong rain squalls throughout the Florida Keys, and that's when the water is expected to rise," Jon Rizzo, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service-Key West, told the New York Times. "We are expecting water to reach its peak on Thursday and continue to flood the streets and the bay side all the way through Friday."

Storm surge warnings are in effect for the lower keys, as the area is expected to face three to five feet surges.

Over 9,000 Keys Energy Services, the electric company that serves Key West, customers are without power, the New York Times reported.

Water has already began to rise in the Keys. Weather Nation shared a video of flooded streets in Key West.

WATCH: FEMA Morning Briefing

FEMA is holding a press briefing on the latest regarding Hurricane Ian. The briefing began around 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Watch live here or below:

Orlando International Airport Closing Soon

Several Florida airports are now closed as the state braces for landfall.

Commercial operations at the Orlando International Airport will stop in 30 minutes, at 10:30 a.m. ET. Flight boards were filled with red early Wednesday, as nearly all flights into and out of the airport were canceled.

Tampa International Airport suspended operations Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. The airport is now closed to passengers and visitors.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport closed Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

"All scheduled flight operations will be suspended following our last departure at 6pm," the airport tweeted Tuesday night.

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport also closed its terminal at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday. The airport will remain closed until the Pinellas County evacuation order is lifted.

DeSantis Says It's Too Late to Evacuate

As Hurricane Ian approaches the west coast of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis says it is too late for people to evacuate.

The storm is expected to make landfall in Charlotte County, but the biggest impacts will also be felt from Collier to Sarasota Counties.

"If you are in any of those counties, it is no longer possible to safely evacuate," DeSantis said in a press briefing Wednesday morning. "It's time to hunker down and prepare for this storm. This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat if a tornado was approaching your home."

DeSantis says this is going to be a "major, major storm," as wind speeds are just shy of a Category 5 hurricane.

Earlier projections showed the storm may weaken as it moved further north, but "this one has just strengthened and strengthened, and it is the real deal."

He added that the storm will "do a lot of damage" and people should be prepared for that and widespread power outages across the state.

Those currently on the road should "get to a safe place as soon as possible," he said, adding that there are more than 200 shelters open in the southwest region alone.

The governor said people should remain inside as the eye of the storm moves inland.

"Don't go outside in the eye of the storm, it's still dangerous," he said. "There is actually a calmness if the center of the hurricane is right over you, you think maybe the storm has passed. That's not the case, it's still very dangerous."

Even if it seems calm, DeSantis tells residents to wait to make sure the storm has passed.

Once it is safe to go outside, DeSantis urges residents to avoid downed powerlines, standing water, to stay clear of damaged trees and avoid driving down flooded streets.

Tornado Watch in Force for Southern and Central Florida

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tornado watch is in force for southern and central areas of Florida today, due to Hurricane Ian.

The NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says: "As Hurricane Ian continues to approach the west coast of Florida, a strong eastern-peripheral wind field and a very moist air mass will support the potential for supercells and a related tornado risk.

"This tornado potential will initially be focused across the southern Peninsula early today, but is likely to further increase and spread northward into the central Florida Peninsula by late morning and afternoon."

Cities covered by the tornado watch include Miami, Orlando, Melbourne and Ford Myers.

Tropical Storm Force Winds Arrive in Southwestern Florida

Tropical storm-force winds have started hitting parts of southwestern Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The federal agency tweeted: "Time is quickly running out for residents to rush preparations to completion on the southwestern Florida peninsula as Hurricane Ian nears."

"Tropical-Storm-Force winds already beginning to affect coast. Conditions will rapidly deteriorate & catastrophic wind damage is expected."

According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm-force winds have a sustained surface strength of at least 74 miles per hour.

Wind speeds are expected to increase dramatically as Hurricane Ian, with maximum sustained winds speeds of 155 miles per hour, moved closer to Florida.

Flash Flood Level Rainfall Forecast Across Central Florida

A swath of central Florida, including Tampa and Orlando, has an "at least 70 percent" chance of recording rainfall levels that exceed "flash flood guidance" on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

Most of the area below his belt, including Miami, has an "at least 40 percent" chance of recording this level of rainfall today. The same applies for a swath of northern Florida, extending to Jacksonville. Even further north, including parts of southern Georgia, there is either a 15 percent or a 5 percent chance of rainfall in excess of flash flood guidance today.

The acute flood risk extends into Thursday, when an area of central and northern Florida, including Orlando and Jacksonville, has an at least 70 percent chance of seeing rainfall levels that breach flash flood guidance.

On Friday the worst of the rainfall risk will head further north, encompassing much of Georgia and all of South Carolina.

American Red Cross Tells Charlotte County Residents to 'Take Cover'

American Red Cross tells Charlotte County residents to "take cover"

Residents of Charlotte Country have been urged to remain inside by the American Red Cross of Central Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

They tweeted: "It is time to take cover as #HurricaneIan makes landfall. Stay inside in the innermost room in your home with no windows with your family."

Separately a tornado warning has been issued for the far south of Osceola County, with the Red Cross instructing inhabitants to "take cover now."

A National Weather Service tornado watch is in force for most of southern Florida, extending all the way north to Orlando, until 5 pm EDT.

Ian Could Hit Florida as Category 5 Hurricane, DeSantis Says

Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall today in Charlotte County, potentially as a category five storm, according to Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Governor told a 7.30am EDT press conference Ian is now "knocking on the door of a Category 5 storm" and will hit Florida's west coast as a "major hurricane."

DeSantis admitted authorities can no longer evacuate people from Charlotte County, and urged those remaining to "hunker down."

Referring to people in the county he said: "It's no longer possible to safely evacuate. It's time to hunker down and prepare for this storm."

DeSantis claimed there will be an "unprecedented effort on behalf of the state" in response to the hurricane, which could cause "really significant structural damage" to some residences.

According to the National Hurricane Center Hurricane Ian has sustained maximum wind speeds of 155 miles per hour, meaning if it increases by another two miles per hour it will be a category five hurricane.

Southwest Florida Facing 'Catastrophic Storm Surge' Later Today

A "storm surge inundation of 12 to 16 feet" above ground level is expected to swamp southwest Florida later today, as a result of Hurricane Ian, according to the latest special advisory update.

The special advisory, which took place at 7am EDT, said: "Catastrophic storm surge inundation of 12 to 16 feet above ground level with destructive waves are expected somewhere along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor.

"Residents in these areas should urgently follow any evacuation orders in effect."

The special advisory also warned "catastrophic wind damage" should be expected along the southwestern Florida coast "in the next few hours," as category four Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

In response "preparations to protect life and property should be urgently rushed to completion."

Sustained Winds of Up to 155mph Push Hurricane Ian Towards Category 5 Level

Hurricane Ian has increased significantly in strength, with maximum sustained wind speeds of up to 155 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The data is based recorded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aircraft.

Currently Ian is a Category 4 storm, but the latest announcement moves it just short of Category 5 hurricane status.

A Category 5 hurricane is one with sustained wind speeds of "157 mph or higher," according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane ranking.

The NHC says this means: "A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

Hurricane Ian Path Update Ahead Of Expected Landfall In Florida

The National Weather Service is providing updates on the path of Hurricane Ian as the storm makes it way towards Florida, ahead of expected landfall on Wednesday.

In its update at 12.30am EDT, the NHC said a "life-threatening storm surge is expected along the Florida west coast and the Lower Florida Keys, where a storm surge warning is in effect, with the highest risk for Naples to the Sarasota region."

The NHC continued: "Hurricane force winds are expected in the hurricane warning area in southwest and west-central Florida beginning Wednesday morning with tropical storm conditions expected overnight. Devastating wind damage is expected near the core of Ian."