Hurricane Ian plowed into Florida’s Gulf Coast with catastrophic force yesterday, assaulting the state with howling winds, torrential rain and a treacherous surge of ocean surf that made it one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the United States.
Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island and state park about 90 miles south of Tampa and just west of Fort Myers, as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 150mph, the US National hurricane Center (NHC) reported.
The storm’s wind speeds put it just shy of a Category 5 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the most severe classification for storms with maximum sustained winds of at least 157mph, though Ian was expected to weaken a notch after coming ashore, according to the NHC.
A general view of St. Pete Beach bay as strong winds from Hurricane Ian arrive yesterday in St. Petersburg, Florida. (AFP)