Hurricane Ian downgraded to a tropical storm as it trudged across Florida, where millions of residents were without power Thursday morning.
Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a catastrophic Category 4 storm with windspeeds topping 150 mph. Despite its weakening, it is one of the strongest hurricanes to barrel into the west coast of the Florida peninsula and continues to unleash torrential rain, catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge.
The tropical storm is however expected to regain near-hurricane strength after emerging over Atlantic waters near the Kennedy Space Center, with South Carolina in its sights for yet another landfall.
With windspeeds of about 60 mph, Tropical Storm Ian was crawling inland Thursday morning at a speed of about 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 5 a.m., the storm system was located about 40 miles southeast of Orlando and 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral. Ian’s center is expected to move off the coast of Florida Thursday afternoon and then approach South Carolina overnight, moving further inland across the Carolinas Friday and Saturday night.
Zuram Rodriguez revisa los daños en torno a su casa rondante en Davie, Florida, el 28 de septiembre de 2022. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP) (Joe Cavaretta/AP)
The hurricane was “a ferocious storm coming in, very hazardous, very ominous,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday. “Once the storm goes, once there’s apparent calm, there are still plenty of hazards out there.”
First responders and law enforcement officers across several Florida cities are still waiting for the worst of the storm to pass before taking to the streets. Florida Power and Light said it needed windspeeds to drop to about 35 mph before they can go out to assess damage to power infrastructure.
“We’re going to have crews out there as soon as it’s safe to do so,” David Reuter, spokesperson for Florida Power and Light told CNN. “Once we’re able to do that, it should take about 24 hours for us to have an assessment of the extensive nature — or maybe not so in certain parts — to figure out where we can start restoring the power.”
Reuter added: “Our goal here is to get the power back on as quickly as possible but most importantly, we’re going to do that safely.”
More than 2.5 million Florida homes and businesses were left without electricity, according to the PowerOutage.us site.
With News Wire Services