‘Apocalyptic’ Hurricane Ian seen approaching Florida

Challenging satellite images show lightning sparks around Hurricane Ian’s giant, swirling eye — as the “apocalyptic” storm already approaches Florida Wednesday knock out power in Cuba.

The timelapse by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came as more than 2.5 million people in the Sunshine State were urged to evacuate before eye-catching there late Wednesday.

Other images from space showed the massive storm eroding massive across the globe as it passed through the Caribbean Sea.

“Air Force Hurricane Hunters found that Ian has strengthened into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” US National Hurricane Center in Miami said Wednesday at 5 a.m.

The advisory warned that “life-threatening tornadoes, devastating winds and flooding are expected” across Florida.

Satellite image of Hurricane Ian.
The giant storm and its eye can be clearly seen from space.

“Recent data from Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to 140 mph … Ian forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane is,” it warned.

While the edge will move early today, “the center of Ian is forecast to move past central Florida tonight and Thursday morning and emerge over the western Atlantic by the end of Thursday,” the hurricane center said.

“The potential for catastrophic wind damage is where Ian’s core runs ashore,” it emphasized.

A hurricane warning covering about 220 miles of the state included Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St. Petersburg, which could receive the first direct hit of a major hurricane since 1921.

Satellite image of Hurricane Ian as it approaches Florida.
The US National Hurricane Center in Miami warned early Wednesday that Ian “has strengthened into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane.”

Forecasters said the storm could reach 12 feet (3.6 m) if it occurred at high tide. Rainfall near the area of ​​the landslide can exceed 18 inches.

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina could also see flooding rains and some coastal surges on Saturday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has already declared a state of emergency, ordering 500 National Guard troops on standby to respond as needed.

The storm’s slow, difficult approach to the US came as scenes of destruction began to emerge in Cuba, where the entire island of 11 million remained without power early Wednesday.

Tobacco Company employees Caridad Alvarez stand in their home destroyed by Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian has already destroyed parts of Cuba’s tobacco farming region, where one grower called it an “apocalypse.”
AFP via Getty Images

Those devastated included many of the country’s most important tobacco farms.

“It was the apocalypse, a real disaster,” said Hirochi Robena, the owner of the farm, which bears his name and that his grandfather has known internationally.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the affected area and vowed it would rise “above adversity”.

Local government station Telepinner reported heavy damage at the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Río, tweeting pictures of collapsed roofs and fallen trees. No death was reported.

A fallen utility pole is in the street in Consolción del Sur, Cuba.
Cuba is still taking stock of the damage as the country of 11 million is left without electricity.
AFP via Getty Images

Officials were working overnight to gradually restore service after the entire grid collapsed, according to a statement from the Cuban Electric Union.

Florida Power and Light also warned people coming in Ian’s way of a similar blackout, saying there could be days without electricity.

As a precaution, hundreds of residents were being evacuated from several nursing homes in the Tampa area, where hospitals were also taking some patients.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – who predicted a “truly historic storm surge” – has already activated 5,000 members of the National Guard Ready for emergency response.

Heavy traffic of evacuees to at-risk areas of Florida.
More than 2.5 million people have been urged to evacuate to Florida ahead of Ian’s attack on Wednesday.
Getty Images

“Now it is time to evacuate. Get on the road,” Florida’s director of emergency management, Kevin Guthrie, said during a news briefing Tuesday evening.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West are closed. Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orlando all closed before the storm, leaving beach-goers stranded as well.

Guests wait for tram transport to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World after the park closes early.
Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orlando all closed before the storm.

“Unfortunately, all the hotels are full or closed, so it looks like we’re going to stay at one of the shelters,” said British tourist Christine Williams as she prepares for the storm to hit Tampa.

Bloomberg reported that Ian is forecast to be one of the costliest hurricanes in US history due to mass evacuations, school closures and thousands of flight cancellations.

However, the biggest concern is “satisfaction,” warned Dean Criswell, head of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re talking about impacts in a part of Florida that hasn’t seen any major direct impacts in nearly 100 years,” Criswell stressed Tuesday.

post with wires

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