Hurricane Ian is so strong that its winds only reached a few miles per hour to become a Category 5 storm.on Wednesday. And it didn’t take long for him to unleash his wrath on Florida’s power grids.
Ian’s eye began moving offshore on Sanibel and Captiva islands midday Wednesday. By 2:30 p.m. ET, more than 660,000 people had lost power, according to the monitor. power outage.us. Just two hours later, the total surpassed 1 million outages.
Southwest Florida has borne the brunt of the impact so far. Four counties, Lee – home of Fort Myers – Sarasota, Charlotte and Collier had power outages that affected more than 50% of the residents tracked by powerutage.us.
Reports of outages continue to spread north along the Gulf Coast, with major disruptions going as far north as Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Outages are spreading northward along the Gulf Coast, with large disturbances going as far north as Citrus County and smaller disturbances creeping toward the band. Areas along Florida’s east coast are also seeing outages, with more than 31,000 reported in Miami-Dade and 14,000 in Palm Beach.
Florida officials have been warning of possible power problems for several days. Ian was relentless in his journey,when it raked the island on Tuesday, although some areas have since been restored.
The National Weather Service warned before landfall that Hurricane Ian would cause “catastrophic” wind damage in southwest Florida. Service Director Ken Graham said during a press briefing Wednesday that the storm will take 24 hours to complete its journey across the state after the eye makes landfall.
“It’s going to be a storm we’ll be talking about for years to come,” he said.
Florida Power & Light, the main provider for homes reporting outages, tweeted Wednesday that the company expected “widespread, widespread” outages. Of the more than 5.7 million customers tracked by PowerOutage.us, more than 718,000 reportedly lost power.
Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Wednesday that there are more than 30,000 line workers “ready and willing” to help restore power when it’s safe to do so. Governor Ron DeSantis said later in the day that the number had risen to 42,000.