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Power outages top 2 million as Category 1 storm heads inland

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall in southwest Florida on Sept. 28 with 150 mph winds and threats of up to an 18-foot storm surge in some coastal areas. (Video: The Washington Post)

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Ian will bring damaging winds and threats of flooding to inland Florida overnight, hours after making landfall in southwest Florida before weakening to a still dangerous Category 1 storm. The storm’s intensity at landfall was Category 4, tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States.

Its severe storm surge was inundating coastal communities in southwest Florida, while it unleashed wind gusts over 120 mph. More than 2 million customers were without power Wednesday night, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages across the country, as conditions continued to deteriorate.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Wednesday evening the storm is “battering” areas of southwest Florida with flooding and storm surge that likely reached as high as 12 feet. He warned of impacts statewide, including the anticipation of major flooding in central and northeast Florida.

Here’s what to know

  • The breadth of damage to life and property remained unclear Wednesday evening as strong winds prevented first responders in the most-flooded communities from carrying out rescues.
  • On Wednesday wind gusts reached speeds as high as 135 mph along Florida’s southwest coast, while rainfall reached as much as 16 inches in some areas.
  • Overnight, Ian is forecast to continue bringing hurricane-force winds to a wide swath of Florida’s west coast and tropical storm conditions to nearly the entire length of the state, including torrential rainfall. Hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of Florida’s east coast through early Friday due to Ian’s strength.
  • More than 2 million people in Florida are under evacuation orders. The first significant hurricane to hit the Sunshine State since 2018, Ian is set to move slowly inland, and its effects are expected to be felt into the weekend.
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Here's what to know:

The breadth of damage to life and property remained unclear Wednesday evening as strong winds prevented first responders in the most-flooded communities from carrying out rescues.
On Wednesday wind gusts reached speeds as high as 135 mph along Florida’s southwest coast, while rainfall reached as much as 16 inches in some areas.
Overnight, Ian is forecast to continue bringing hurricane-force winds to a wide swath of Florida’s west coast and tropical storm conditions to nearly the entire length of the state, including torrential rainfall. Hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of Florida’s east coast through early Friday due to Ian’s strength.
More than 2 million people in Florida are under evacuation orders. The first significant hurricane to hit the Sunshine State since 2018, Ian is set to move slowly inland, and its effects are expected to be felt into the weekend.

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The Atlantic hurricane season

The latest: The 2022 season started out slow, but has rapidly intensified this fall with conditions prime for storms. Fiona brought severe flooding to Puerto Rico before making landfall in Canada, and now we’re tracking Hurricane Ian as it heads for Florida. For the seventh year in a row, hurricane officials expect an above-average season of hurricane activity.

Tips for preparing: We rounded up seven safety tips to help you get ready for hurricanes. Here’s some other guidance about keeping your phone charged and useful in dangerous weather, and what to know about flood insurance.

Understanding climate change: It’s not just you — hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the U.S. more frequently in recent years. And last summer alone, nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster. Read more about how climate change is fueling severe weather events.

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