Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida

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Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday afternoon that more than 1.1 million electric customers had lost power because of Hurricane Ian — and the number is expected to grow.

“This was a big one. I think we know there’s going to be major, major impacts,” DeSantis said during a media briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center.

Hurricane Ian made landfall at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 storm on the Southwest Florida coast near Cayo Costa, a barrier island off Fort Myers, the National Hurricane Center said. Mainland landfall occurred 90 minutes later just south of Punta Gorda, near Pirate Harbor, in Charlotte County.

Storm surge reached 12 feet in areas. Emergency calls in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties were being rerouted as local call centers were down.

“This storm is doing a number on the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “It’s going to continue to move through the state through today and much of tomorrow (Thursday). And there’s going to continue to be a number of adverse effects. I can tell you that as soon as it moves beyond Southwest Florida, you’re going to see a massive surge of personnel and supplies to be able to help those who are in need, get people back on their feet to rebuild those communities.”

Ian is expected to remain a strong system as it crosses the state and exits into the Atlantic Ocean around Daytona Beach late Thursday.

Major flooding is expected in Northeast Florida along the St. Johns River, hundreds of miles from where Ian made landfall.

Data from a U.S. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance flight indicated Ian’s maximum sustained winds were near 150 mph at landfall.

The top sustained wind speed was down to 140 mph as of 5 p.m.

Heavy rains are expected to spread across the peninsula through Thursday, with “life-threatening” flooding expected across portions of Central Florida.

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