Latest storm hits Florida's Gulf Coast side, power outages to at least 2.5 million
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Thursday after hitting spots in the Caribbean hard (such as Cuba) in previous days. The storm has ranged from a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm over the past week, depending on time and place, but Florida's Gulf Coast is already reporting severe damage and at least 2.5 million are without power.
An EA correspondent brought word from Coral Springs, Florida, on the other side of the state and near Fort Lauderdale, which is not in the hurricane's direct path but still offers insight as to the situation on the ground, observing light vegetative damage in the area. Many in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area are on the Duke Energy grid and therefore without power, while Florida Power & Light powers the rest of the state. Thousands of trucks are staged throughout the state ready to restore power.
Ian became a tropical storm early Thursday, according to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center. It is expected to leave the state on the Atlantic seaboard "near the Kennedy Space Center and regain near-hurricane strength," the center said in its 5 a.m. update. The storm is likely to send tropical storm force winds into Georgia and North and South Carolina today, and the hurricane center has warned that “life-threatening” storm surge and catastrophic flooding is likely along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.