Hurricane Ian tracker Thursday: Storms batter Florida


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The National Weather Service downgraded Hurricane Ian to a tropical storm early Thursday morning after its maximum sustained windspeeds fell to 65 mph.

The storm made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida just after 3 p.m. Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds measured at 150 mph. By 2 a.m. Thursday, it had weakened to a category 1 with maximum sustained winds of 75mph.

While the storm quickly lost its strength, the NHC said it is still expected to produce strong winds, heavy rains, and storm surge across portions of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

According to the NHC, the center of the tropical storm was located about 70 miles southeast of Orlando, Florida, and 55 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral, Florida, as it moved north-northeast at 8 mph.

“It will continue to move north-northeast into Hardee and Polk counties before moving near Orlando as a tropical storm,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Eric Stone.

The center of Ian is now projected to move across central Florida Wednesday night into Thursday morning and emerge over the Atlantic late Thursday. Ian will then turn north Friday and approach northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts.

While Ian was forecasted to weaken as it moves across the Florida Peninsula, the system could regain “near-hurricane” strength once it moves off the east coast of Florida on Thursday.

New watches and warnings were issued for North Carolina and South Carolina Wednesday evening.

The storm could dump another 6 to 8 inches of rain on central Florida, coastal Georgia, and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Tampa Bay and other parts of Florida are also under a storm surge warning, meaning the storm could raise water levels above normal tides.

According to the NHC, water could reach the following heights above ground in the following areas:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to Altamaha Sound…4-6 ft
  • Englewood to Chokoloskee including Charlotte Harbor…4-6 ft
  • Altamaha Sound to South Santee River…3-5 ft
  • St. Johns River north of Julington…3-5 ft
  • Middle of Long Boat to Englewood…2-4 ft
  • St. Johns River south of Julington…2-4 ft
  • Chokoloskee to East Cape Sable…2-4 ft
  • South Santee River to Little River Inlet…2-4 ft
  • Patrick Air Force Base to Flagler/Volusia County Line…1-3 ft
  • East of Little River Inlet to Cape Lookout…1-3 ft
  • Anclote to Middle of Longboat Key, including Tampa Bay…1-3 ft

The NHC said the deepest water will be near and to the right of the tropical storm’s center, where large waves will accompany the storm surge. The flooding is dependent on the timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, creating varying levels of floodwaters over short distances.

Here is a list of watches and warnings that are in effect as of 11 p.m. ET. Wednesday.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

North of Bonita Beach to Indian Pass Florida

  • Boca Raton Florida to Cape Lookout North Carolina
  • Lake Okeechobee

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Middle of Longboat Key southward to Flamingo including Charlotte Harbor
  • Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the South Santee River
  • St. Johns River

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • North of Bonita Beach to Indian Pass Florida
  • Boca Raton Florida to Cape Lookout North Carolina
  • Lake Okeechobee

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • North of South Santee River to Little River Inlet

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to the South Santee River

Tracking Hurricane Ian

>> Latest updates on Hurricane Ian

>> Live Max Defender 8 radar

>> Tampa Bay evacuations

>> Find your evacuation zone

>> Max Defender 8 Hurricane Guide

>> School closures

>> Where to find sandbags

>> Closures and cancellations

>> Download the Max Defender 8 app

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