Hurricane Ian slammed into Florida's west coast on Wednesday, making landfall just after 2:30 p.m in Captiva, Lee County, near Fort Myers as a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds measured at 155 mph, just 2 mph shy of Category 5-strength.
The winds — combined with deadly storm surge as high as 18 feet and historic rainfall predicted to total as much as 24 inches — are wreaking havoc on homes, cars, and critical infrastructure.
*RARE* first person view of storm surge. This camera is 6 feet off the ground on Estero Blvd in Fort Myers Beach, FL. Not sure how much longer it keeps working. You’ll see it live only on ?@weatherchannel? #Ian pic.twitter.com/WwHtvgVxjY— Mike Bettes (@mikebettes) September 28, 2022
Transformers blowing all around us,lighting up the sky taking out communications and electricity. I just took this video seconds ago #bradentonfl #hurricaneian @CNNweather @CNNweather @cnnbrk pic.twitter.com/0cDfseLolx— Derek Van Dam (@VanDamCNN) September 28, 2022
Before making landfall, the storm's eyewall whipped Florida's gulf coast as Ian churned northeast, with winds in excess of 70 mph and gusts over 80 mph reported by the National Hurricane Center's noon update.
This is what 140-160 MPH winds look and sound like. This is Fort Myers across the bridge from Sanibel. There’s a reporter out there. I fear he’s about to get hit by a metal pool sign that has come lose. I’m going to find him and I’ll be back. Don’t go outside. #hurricaneian pic.twitter.com/HgES4xj7Dh— Céline McArthur ???? (@CelineTVNEWS) September 28, 2022
Somehow a traffic cam on Sanibel, Island is still live during the eye wall right now during #HurricaneIan!! This is absolutely insane and extremely sad, my thoughts are with everyone in the area. #Florida #StormSurge #Hurricane #Ian pic.twitter.com/Rg1zMN9845— BirdingPeepWx (@BirdingPeepWx) September 28, 2022
Airports across Florida in Ian's path remained closed on Wednesday from Tampa to Daytona Beach and Orlando to Key West, while more than 650,000 residents are already without power as Ian continues moving inland.
Hurricane Hunter flights measuring the intensity and movement of the storm in the hours before landfall saw pilots turn back before breaking through into the eye due to the severity of the turbulence, as Fox News' Madison Scarpino experienced first-hand.
The Hurricane Hunter flight today was the craziest thing I’ve ever done!! This video doesn’t do the turbulence justice…we dropped 1,200 feet instantaneously going through the eye of Ian. @foxweather @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/Gv52pwA3Iv— Madison Scarpino (@madisonscarpino) September 28, 2022
First hand account from @madisonscarpino who flew to the eye of Hurricane #Ian:— ?? Steve Bender??????? (@SteveBenderWx) September 28, 2022
"The pilot said it was the roughest/worst flight of his career. The NOAA Hurricane Hunter went through the eye at the same time as us, and actually turned around from how intense it was."
I have flown storms for the last six years. This flight to Hurricane #Ian on Kermit (#NOAA42) was the worst I’ve ever been on. I’ve never seen so much lightning in an eye.— Tropical Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 28, 2022
This was the eye. You can see the curvature. Understand this is at NIGHT. The light is from LIGHTNING. pic.twitter.com/cfZ9ls6YD3
Meanwhile north of the eye, eerie videos of an empty Tampa Bay showed the strength of the Ian's winds that pushed the bay's water out into the Gulf of Mexico.
On Wednesday afternoon just before landfall, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an update on his state's whole-of-government preparation that included additional requests for FEMA assistance to aid in recovery after Hurricane Ian passes:
Ian is currently a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, nearing a category 5. Because of the severity and devastation of this storm, Governor Ron DeSantis is requesting a Major Disaster declaration from President Biden for all 67 counties of the state. As part of this request, Governor DeSantis is also asking that President Biden approve a FEMA federal cost share of 60 percent for 45 days to support recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian. This FEMA funding would support debris removal and emergency protective measures (FEMA Categories A and B) to help counties that will be directly impacted by Hurricane Ian. The President has the authority to issue a waiver and increase the federal cost share for hurricane recovery. The approval of this funding has the potential to save Florida communities and the state hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is a developing story and may be updated.