“I wish it wasn’t a forecast I had to deliver,” National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said Wednesday as federal officials issued a dire update on Hurricane Ian.
“This is going to be a storm that we’ll be talking about for many years,” he said, adding that the majority of the state will be in Ian’s “sights”, including inland areas.
Ian’s winds are as strong as 155 mph and extend 35 miles beyond the eye of the storm.
“It’s not just there in the middle. It’s a bigger impact of all of that,” Graham said.
It will take Ian about 24 hours to cross the state after the eye of the storm hits land, Graham said, creating a dangerous situation for millions of people. Powerful winds and rain, in addition to slow movement, could contribute to some locations seeing up to 18 feet of storm surge and up to 2 feet of rain alone.
Even Florida’s east coast is expected to experience storm surge and high winds, he said, and tornadoes will continue to be a threat, mostly in the right front quadrant of the storm.
Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross, said nearly 500 Red Cross responders are ready and shelter supplies are prepared for 60,000 people. By the end of the weekend, she predicts that more than 2,500 Red Cross responders will be deployed.
“To everyone in the path of the storm: please, please follow the evacuation instructions of your elected officials and local authorities,” McGovern said. “We know that for many of you, recovery from Hurricane Ian will likely be a very long road, and your American Red Cross will be there.”
FEMA organized 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water before landing. 300 ambulances – the same ones used to help the state during the COVID-19 pandemic – are ready to help.