Ian Strengthens Back Into Category 1 Hurricane Ahead of Second Landfall

by Suzanne Halliburton

Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States, isn’t finished with the carnage. The system, after dropping to a tropical storm, now has regenerated as it churns through the warm water of the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center says Ian’s winds are back up to 75 miles per hour. That means the system is back to a minimal Cat 1 hurricane. Hurricane Ian isn’t the powerful Cat 4 storm anymore with 150 mph wind, but the system is swirling through another day of destruction.

Hurricane Ian Should Make Another Landfall Around Lunchtime Friday

Here’s what is expected to happen next. Forecasters project that Hurricane Ian will strengthen to about 80 mph sometime Thursday night and will make another landfall in Charleston, S.C. just after lunchtime, Friday afternoon. The storm first hit a barrier island off the coast of Fort Myers. That’s the southwestern Florida coast. The massive system moved northeast through central Florida, then steered itself off the east coast into the Atlantic. Now, steering currents are pushing Hurricane Ian to the northwest, so it’s twisting back towards South Carolina. Ian then should start weakening as it heads towards Charlotte, N.C.

Charleston could face up to a seven-foot storm surge as Ian generates another 5 to 10 inches of rain.

As the storm cleared in Florida, Thursday, rescue workers started sifting through flooded homes to find stranded people who didn’t evacuate. Coast Guard piloted helicopters were needed to save people who were sitting on top of their roofs. So far, there are 13 confirmed deaths.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a media briefing that Hurricane Ian caused a “500-year flooding event.”

“The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that has been done is historic,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this, we’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

More than 2.6 million homes still were without electricity as of Thursday afternoon. Utility workers from 30 states are helping those from Florida electric companies to restore power.

Ian Tied for Fifth Strongest Ever to Hit United States Mainland

Hurricane Ian, with its 150 mph sustained winds, tied for fifth strongest storm to hit the U.S. mainland. The Labor Day hurricane of 1935 still is No. 1. It’s 185-mph winds battered Florida. Hurricane Camille, which hit Mississippi in 1969, still is second at 175 mph. Hurricane Andrew is third. The storm’s winds measured at 165 when it smashed into south Florida in 1992. And Hurricane Michael is fourth. The system’s winds were at 155 when it made landfall in Florida in 2018.

Hurricane Ian is tied with Ida (2021, Louisiana): Laura (2020, Louisiana); Charley (2004, Florida); Freeport Hurricane (1932, Texas); Florida Keys Hurricane (1919).

The Galveston Hurricane in 1900 still is the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. At least 8,000 people died. That represented about 20 percent of the city’s population.