Meteorologists reported several tornadoes struck Florida after Hurricane Ian intensified on Tuesday night.
Hurricane Ian’s powerful winds spawned tornado warnings for several Florida counties on Tuesday night. In fact, by 10 p.m., a half-dozen counties in the sunshine state were under a tornado warning.
The perimeter of the hurricane birthed tornadoes along the east coast of Florida as it reached Category 3 intensity. This was before it was reclassified to a Category 4 on Wednesday. The tornado threat to southeast Florida counties continued overnight as the major hurricane moved closer.
Officials reported that the tornadoes damaged buildings and vehicles in the state’s Palm Beach County’s Kings Point community late on Tuesday.
However, at least two tornadoes were reported in Broward County earlier in the evening. One tornado headed north toward Cooper City, resulting in the National Weather Service warning residents in Davie, Plantation, and Lauderdale Lakes to find cover immediately.
Then, about an hour later, another tornado was said to be “very close” to the path of the first one.
Hurricane Ian set to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday, expected to bring extreme storm surge
According to Broward County Mayor Michael Udine, one of the cyclones passed over North Perry Airport. Once there, it caused severe damage to several aircraft and hangars.
Early Wednesday morning, the hurricane unexpectedly gained intensity, reaching a top wind speed of 155 mph. Officials believe Hurricane Ian will be a historic storm when it lands on the southwest Florida coast.
According to meteorologists, the storm, which is just shy of Category 5 strength, is expected to hit the state late Wednesday morning or early afternoon.
Officials believe it will hit just south of Fort Myers to just north of Sarasota, according to reports from the National Hurricane Center. In addition, weather officials have now estimated that the storm surge will also be much higher than expected. Storm surge is rising sea levels due to extreme winds that can cause destructive flooding.
Per reports, the Fort Myers region could see a storm surge of up to 16 feet. This figure is well above the previous estimates. Additionally, a larger area from north Fort Myers to Sarasota could see a storm surge of up to 10 feet.
“Catastrophic storm surge inundation of 12 to 16 feet above ground level along with destructive waves are expected somewhere along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor,” the hurricane center wrote in a 7 a.m. update. “Residents in these areas should urgently follow any evacuation orders in effect.”
As of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reported the storm was about 55 miles west of Naples and 60 miles south-southwest of Punta Gorda. It was moving north-northeast at ten mph.