HomeABC NationalHurricane Ian live updates: Fatalities reported as storm moves across FloridaHurricane Ian live updates: Fatalities reported as storm moves across FloridaThu, September 29, 2022 by ABC NewsSHARE NOW ABC News(NEW YORK) — Ian’s winds weakened to 65 mph on Thursday morning, downgrading the system to a tropical storm as it moved over central Florida. The storm made landfall on Florida’s west coast on Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:Sep 29, 7:21 AM EDT Biden Approves Florida Disaster DeclarationPresident Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Florida residents in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.Sep 29, 6:42 AM EDT Conditions in Kissimmee and neighboring counties in Florida worsened overnightFlooding has hit several parts of the Orlando area, including Seminole, Osceola, Lake counties and other neighboring areas.ABC News’ Orlando affiliate WFTV said that first responders in Kissimmee rescued at least one person from a couple of vehicles that had been partially submerged during a storm surge overnight.It is unclear how severe the damage is in the area but witnesses reported heavy and sustained wind and rain throughout the overnight hours.Sep 29, 6:40 AM EDT Flash flood emergency declared near OrlandoA flash flood emergency was declared in areas north of Orlando as the region was hit by about a foot of rain, the National Weather Service said.The declaration covered Sanford, Lake Mary and Heathrow, the service said. Nearby Central Orange, Seminole and South Central Volusia were also under flash flood warnings.“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the service said. “Seek higher ground now! Life threatening flash flooding of low water crossings, small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.”Parts of the region have seen more than 16 inches of rain within 24 hours, with more than 9 inches in the last six hours, making the storm a 1,000-year flood event in the Orlando area and to the north.Sep 29, 5:50 AM EDT Power outages spread to 2.5 million customersMore than 2.5 million customers were without power in Florida at about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, the state’s providers said.Sep 29, 5:09 AM EDT Ian becomes tropical storm with 65 mph windsIan’s winds slowed to 65 mph early on Thursday morning, downgrading the system to a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said.“The Hurricane Warnings along the east and west coasts of the Florida peninsula have been changed to Tropical Storm Warnings,” the center said.Sep 29, 5:20 AM EDT Biden and DeSantis update schedules for ThursdayFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis will be holding his next press conference on the latest developments of Hurricane Ian at 8:45 a.m. ET at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will visit FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to receive an update on Hurricane Ian at 12 p.m. ET.While Hurricane Ian is expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday, the storm has battered southwest Florida and has left more than 2 million people without power so far.Sep 29, 2:15 AM EDT Ian now 75 mph Category 1 hurricane, expected to become tropical storm later this morningAs of the 2 a.m. ET advisory this morning, Ian continues to maintain its hurricane status.However, it has weakened to a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane and is expected to become a tropical storm later this morning before emerging off of Florida’s east coast.Ian’s new track will be issued and updated again at 5 a.m. ET.Sep 29, 2:09 AM EDT 2.3 million customers without power, Florida providers sayFlorida’s electric providers said more than 2.3 million customers were without power at about 2 a.m. local time.Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest provider, reported more than 1.1 million outages for its 5.7 million customers.“Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic winds will mean parts of our system will need to be rebuilt — not restored,” the company said on Twitter late Wednesday. “Be prepared for widespread, extended outages as we are assessing the damage. We are already at work restoring power where we can do so safely.”Sep 29, 12:38 AM EDT Portions of Fort Myers under up to 4 feet of waterPortions of Fort Myers are under up to 4 feet of water, the city said late Wednesday night, and residents are being told to stay inside as first responders try and assess the damage from Hurricane Ian.“We need to ensure that the roads are clear so that our first responders and our assistance crews can go out there and help everyone that needs us,” the city wrote on Twitter. “PLEASE, please, please stay inside.”Sep 29, 12:04 AM EDT Jacksonville airport cancels all flights ThursdayJacksonville International Airport has canceled all flights for Thursday and the terminal will be closed.Sep 28, 11:29 PM EDT Hurricane Ian now Category 1 stormIan continues to gradually weaken as it moves across the Florida Peninsula, now a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds down to 90 mph. The storm is moving to the north-northeast at 8 mph, and the center is currently about 70 miles south of Orlando.While Ian is weakening, it’s still bringing widespread dangerous weather impacts across the state.Sep 28, 10:58 PM EDT Flash flood emergency issued in west-central FloridaA Flash Flood Emergency has been issued for parts of Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Hardee and Highlands counties in west-central Florida, with other areas experiencing life-threatening flash flooding.Between 12 to 19 inches of rain has already fallen in the area.-ABC News’ Daniel PeckSep 28, 10:51 PM EDT Lee County sheriff: Reports of buildings compromised and vehicles floatingAs Hurricane Ian makes its way across Florida, counties are assessing the devastation left by the storm.In a Wednesday night press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that Ian hit the county extremely hard.Marceno said he’d gotten reports of compromised homes and businesses and of vehicles floating into the ocean.Officials said part of Fort Myers, which is in Lee County, was “decimated” by Hurricane Ian.Marceno said residents are in need, and the county will respond to emergency calls once it’s safe.-ABC News’ William GretskySep 28, 10:46 PM EDT Ian continues to gradually weaken, winds at 100 mphHurricane Ian continues to gradually weaken as of 10 p.m. ET, with maximum sustained winds now down to 100 mph. The storm is moving to the north-northeast at 8 mph, and its center is currently about 80 miles south of Orlando.The Florida Peninsula continues to experience dangerous weather impacts, including strong wind gusts, torrential rain and persistent storm surge in some areas.Areas of relentless heavy rain will continue to bring the threat of dangerous flash flooding in some areas. This threat becomes even more dangerous during overnight hours.-ABC News’ Dan PeckSep 28, 10:33 PM EDT At least 30 rescues in Naples WednesdayThere were at least 30 rescues in Naples, Florida, on Wednesday amid ongoing rescue operations, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said.“Our East Naples deputies did 30 rescue missions today. We are still collecting numbers from other areas. We are still rescuing people,” the office wrote on Facebook.“Water is everywhere. It will recede. There will be damage,” it added. “Tomorrow we will have a better idea of the extent of damage. We will keep you updated.”Sep 28, 10:26 PM EDT More than 2 million customers without power in FloridaThe number of customers without power in Florida has topped 2 million, as Hurricane Ian continues making its way across the state.Most of the outages are in the southern Gulf side of the state, primarily in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties.The outages are moving east as the storm moves across the state.-ABC News’ Darren ReynoldsSep 28, 9:28 PM EDT Jacksonville mayor announces closure of 3 major beachesJacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Wednesday evening that the city is closing Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches ahead of Hurricane Ian’s impact on the area.“We will reopen as soon as it’s safe for citizens,” Curry tweeted.Sep 28, 9:26 PM EDT Over 1.9 million customers without power in FloridaThe number of customers without power in Florida has topped 1.9 million, as Hurricane Ian continues making its way across the state.Most of the outages are in the southern Gulf side of the state, primarily in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties.The outages are moving east as the storm moves across the state.-ABC News’ Darren ReynoldsSep 28, 9:13 PM EDT Ian downgraded to Category 2 hurricaneHurricane Ian has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm as of a 9 p.m. ET update, with winds now at 105 mph.-ABC News’ Riley WinchSep 28, 8:30 PM EDT Extreme wind warning issued for central Florida countiesHurricane Ian remains a Category 3 storm as of an 8 p.m. ET update, with winds dropping to 115 mph.The National Weather Service issued a new Extreme Wind Warning for Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Polk and DeSoto Counties in central Florida until 9:30 p.m. ET.-ABC News’ Riley WinchSep 28, 7:31 PM EDT ‘We hear your calls’: SheriffLee County has received more than double the number of 911 calls it typically receives amid Hurricane Ian, according to Sheriff Carmine Marceno, as first responders have suspended their emergency response during the major storm.“We hear your calls and are aware that Hurricane Ian was a powerful and devastating weather event,” Marceno said in a social media post Wednesday evening. “We want to get to you. We want to save you. As soon as safely possible, our assets are ready to deploy to come to your aide.”Ben Abes, Lee County’s public safety director, said current conditions, including flooding, make it “impossible” for first responders to go out. He said the county is tracking 911 calls and prioritizing them once first responders are able to act after the hurricane passes.“We are aware of a number of calls of people who are stranded due to high water,” he said during a press briefing Wednesday evening. “This is a scary situation. We urge you not to panic.”Lee County, which is home to hard-hit Fort Myers, Sanibel and Bonita Beach, issued a countywide curfew Wednesday evening due to the storm that is in effect until further notice.Sep 28, 7:15 PM EDT Ian downgraded to a Category 3 hurricaneHurricane Ian has weakened to a Category 3 storm hours after making landfall near Fort Myers as a major hurricane.While the strength of the storm has diminished slightly, Ian is still wreaking havoc on the Sunshine State as a devastating storm.The highest wind gust measured at 132 mph at Port Charlotte, and maximum sustained winds are currently at 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 7 p.m. advisory.Water levels in Fort Myers have been reported at more than 7 feet, the advisory states.-ABC News’ Riley WinchSep 28, 7:10 PM EDT Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach ‘decimated’ by Ian, local officials saySanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach have been “decimated” by Ian after the major hurricane made landfall there.About 75% of Lee County is without power, and several people are stranded due to high water, officials from Lee County Emergency Management announced during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.A curfew in Lee County was implemented beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasts predict that it will not be safe to venture outside in the region until 5 a.m. on Thursday, officials said.The number of injuries or fatalities is not yet clear, officials said, adding that the recovery efforts will take months.-ABC News’ Will GretskySep 28, 6:38 PM EDT Wind gusts in eye wall measure at 104 mphA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station in Venice Beach, Florida, has measured wind gusts of 104 mph within the northern eye wall of Hurricane Ian, according to the 6 p.m. storm advisory.The storm is currently battering the Florida peninsula with catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.Maximum sustained winds measured at 130 mph, and the storm system has begun churning even slower at 8 mph north-northeast — toward the east coast of the state.-ABC News’ Melissa GriffinSep 28, 6:33 PM EDT ‘Massive mobilization’ of utility trucks on the way to Florida, governor saysA caravan of utility trucks is making its way from several states toward the parts of Florida most battered by Hurricane Ian to restore power after the worst of the storm has passed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.“We have a massive, massive mobilization,” DeSantis said, adding that workers are coming from other southern states accustomed to hurricane cleanup, such as Texas and Louisiana.More nearly 1.5 million customers in Florida were without power Wednesday as Ian made landfall near Fort Myers.Ian continued to batter a large swath of Florida at 6:15 p.m. ET, with life-threatening storm surge all along the southwest coast — up to 12 feet in some places, DeSantis said.Downtown Naples was reportedly completely flooded due to record storm surge, and while there were also reports of structural damage in Lee County, DeSantis said.“This was a top five hurricane to ever hit the Florida peninsula,” the governor said.DeSantis said that devastating inland flooding was inundating much of the regions experiencing hurricane conditions, as well.DeSantis has declared a major disaster in the state.-ABC News’ Will GretskySep 28, 6:13 PM EDT Fort Myers, Naples issue curfewsThe city of Fort Myers in southwest Florida has issued a citywide curfew “to protect and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of residents, visitors and first responders.” The curfew started at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will be in effect for the next 48 hours.Down the coast, the city of Naples also issued a citywide curfew earlier Wednesday afternoon, effective immediately until further notice.Naples reported record storm surge Wednesday morning, before Ian made landfall.Sep 28, 4:54 PM EDT Ian makes 2nd landfall on Florida mainlandHurricane Ian made a second landfall just south of Punta Gorda with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.Ian made initial landfall on a barrier island near Cayo Costa just after 3 p.m.Sep 28, 4:48 PM EDT South Carolina, North Carolina issue states of emergencyThe governors of South Carolina and North Carolina each issued states of emergency on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Ian’s arrival.South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said no evacuations or school closures have been ordered yet.North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the decision would help first responders and farmers and protect customers from price gouging.The storm is expected to cross Florida and enter the Atlantic before making landfall again along the South Carolina coast over the weekend.Sep 28, 4:13 PM EDT Over 1 million power outagesOver 1 million Florida customers were without power on Wednesday just after Ian made landfall.The majority of outages were along the west coast in Sarasota, Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties.Sep 28, 3:12 PM EDT Ian makes landfall as Category 4Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s west coast Wednesday afternoon as a powerful Category 4 storm, slamming the coastline with powerful 150 mph winds and dangerous storm surge.Landfall was at about 3:05 p.m. ET near Cayo Costa, an island off the coast of Fort Myers.For southwest Florida, Ian “will probably be the big one that they always remember,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.The governor said Ian will likely stay in the state until Thursday, exiting from Daytona Beach.Sep 28, 2:07 PM EDT Biden to visit FEMA on ThursdayPresident Joe Biden will visit FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to receive an update on Hurricane Ian, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.“We have deployed significant federal resources to the region to help prepare for the hurricane,” Jean-Pierre said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “We have more than 1,300 federal response workers on the ground in Florida. … Three-hundred Army Corps personnel are on the ground to support power and fuel assessments. Three-hundred ambulances are supporting local officials, and multiple federal disaster medical assistance teams are deployed to Florida and Georgia.”Sep 28, 1:33 PM EDT Counties suspend emergency response callsSarasota County, Florida, officials announced emergency crews will no longer respond to calls due to Hurricane Ian.In Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, emergency response calls for fire and EMS service will also be suspended.The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office added, “911 will still be operational and calls will be triaged for response as soon as weather condition permit.”Sep 28, 1:25 PM EDT Naples issues curfewThe city of Naples, in southwest Florida, has issued a citywide curfew, effective immediately until further notice.Naples has reported a wind gust of 112 mph as Hurricane Ian inches closer to shore.Sep 28, 1:03 PM EDT Extreme wind warning issuedAn extreme wind warning has been issued near Fort Myers as Hurricane Ian nears.Naples has reported a wind gust of 112 mph.Fort Myers resident Debbie Levenson and her husband chose not to evacuate for Hurricane Ian and are staying put at home.“Hurricanes are a concern, but I don’t freak out about it. You do what you have to do. You get your supplies, make sure you have flashlights, do your laundry ahead of time in case you lose power,” she told ABC News. “We bought bottled water and wine. We put gas in the car. The store shelves were not empty.”“We are concerned with local flooding, but we drained the pool and are keeping an eye on the roads,” she continued. “Most of the neighborhood has stayed. Neighbors only left if they had small children or had a medical reason.”Ken Graham, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, warned people sheltering in place to not venture out once the storm passes over.“Don’t go out there. It’s so dangerous to be out there. So even if you see the water receding, it’s not the time to go out,” he said.-ABC News’ Morgan Korn and Max GolemboSep 28, 12:03 PM EDT Ian nears record-breaking windsHurricane Ian, a Category 4 with 155 mph winds, is nearing record-breaking wind levels.Only four hurricanes have ever made landfall in the continental U.S. with winds over 155 mph: Labor Day in 1935 with 185 mph winds; Camille in 1969 with 175 mph winds; Andrew in 1992 with 165 mph; and Michael in 2018 with 160 mph.Sep 28, 11:53 AM EDT Naples sees record storm surgeNaples, Florida, reached a new record-high storm surge of 4.8 feet Wednesday morning — and the water continues to rise.This beats the record of 4.25 feet reached during Hurricane Irma in 2017.Ken Graham, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, warned Wednesday, “This is going to be a storm we talk about for many years to come — historic event.”Sep 28, 11:13 AM EDT Ian’s eyewall moving on shoreHurricane Ian’s eyewall is moving on shore.The powerful Category 4 storm is set to bring catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding.Sanibel Island has reported sustained winds of 58 mph with a wind gust reaching 75 mph.Sep 28, 10:45 AM EDT Over 2,000 flights canceledThe airports in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are leading the world in flight cancellations Wednesday morning.Over 2,000 flights have been canceled within, into, or out of the United States on Wednesday.Another 1,600 flights are already cancelled for Thursday.The Tampa International Airport will remain closed through Thursday.-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway and Sam SweeneySep 28, 10:00 AM EDT Over 172,000 power outagesOver 172,000 Florida customers are without power on Wednesday morning as Ian nears.Sep 28, 9:09 AM EDT 18 feet of storm surge possibleUp to 18 feet of dangerous storm surge is forecast along Florida’s Southwest coast, including Englewood, Bonita Beach and Charlotte Harbor.FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday that her biggest concern with Ian was storm surge.“In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge,” she noted.Sep 28, 8:32 AM EDT Gov.: Treat storm like tornado approaching your homeFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Wednesday morning that Ian could potentially make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane.“This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat a tornado approaching your home,” he said. “This one has just strengthened and strengthened, and it is the real deal. So, it is going to do a lot of damage, so people should be prepared for that.”More than 200 shelters are open in South Florida, he said.Twenty-six states, including New York and New Jersey, have sent support to Florida, he said.Sep 28, 7:41 AM EDT Winds near Category 5 as storm approaches FloridaHurricane Ian approached Category 5 status at about 6:30 a.m. ET, with its winds topping out at 155 mph.Only four hurricanes have ever made landfall in the continental U.S. with winds over 155 mph: Labor Day in 1935 with 185 mph winds; Camille in 1969 with 175 mph winds; Andrew in 1992 with 165 mph; and Michael in 2018 with 160 mph.Severe Category 5 hurricanes have winds above 157 mph.“Rapidly intensifying Ian forecast to cause catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding in the Florida peninsula,” the National Hurricane Center said at 7 a.m. ET.Sep 28, 7:23 AM EDT 16 feet of storm surge possibleA whopping 16 feet of storm surge is possible around Fort Myers.Up to 11 feet of storm surge is forecast for Naples while a maximum of 10 feet is expected for the Sarasota area.“Our biggest concern as we wait for this storm to make landfall is storm surge,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday. “In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge.”Sep 28, 7:15 AM EDT Nearly 2,000 flights canceledFlorida’s airports are leading the world in flight cancellations Wednesday morning.There are at least 1,903 flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States for Wednesday.Sep 28, 5:13 AM EDT Ian strengthens to Category 4 hurricaneHurricane Ian strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday morning, as its winds climbed to 140 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.The storm is the first Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Rita in September 2005.Sep 28, 3:06 AM EDT Ian moves closer to Florida’s west coastHurricane Ian was moving closer to Florida’s west coast, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. ET update on the storm’s position.The eye of the Category 3 storm was about 95 miles southwest of Naples, Florida, and was moving north-northeast at about 10 mph, officials said.“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to approach the west coast of Florida within the hurricane warning area this morning, and move onshore later today,” the update said.Officials said the storm was expected to pass over central Florida on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, before emerging over the Atlantic Ocean late Thursday.The hurricane was “expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula,” the update said.Sep 28, 2:28 AM EDT Miami-Dade County suspends transit serviceOfficials in Miami-Dade County suspended transit services at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday, as Hurricane Ian approached Florida.Florida’s most populous county halted its Metrobus, Metrorail, Metromover and Special Transportation Services until further notice, officials said in a news release.Sep 28, 12:24 AM EDT DeSantis tells Floridians time to evacuate is ‘now’Hurricane Ian is fast approaching Florida, and the time to leave is “now” if you’re in an evacuation zone, Gov. Ron DeSantis said late Tuesday during a press conference.“Your time to evacuate is coming to an end. You need to evacuate now. You’re going to start feeling major impacts of this storm relatively soon,” the governor said. “Now is the time to do it, and now is the time to act.”As of Tuesday night, about 8,000 people were without power in the southern part of Florida, officials said.Conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate across central and south Florida, with landfall currently forecast sometime between Wednesday afternoon and early evening.Elsewhere, a tropical storm warning is now in effect along the coast of Georgia and up to Charleston, S.C.Sep 27, 10:31 PM EDT Biden spoke with DeSantis, White House press secretary saysPresident Joe Biden spoke Tuesday night with Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of Hurricane Ian’s arrival “to discuss the steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted.“The president and the governor committed to continued close coordination,” Jean-Pierre wrote.Sep 27, 10:18 PM EDT Cuba without power in wake of Hurricane Ian: ReportsCuba has lost power after Hurricane Ian made landfall on the island Tuesday, according to reports.There is “0 electricity generation” in the country, according to a National Electric System update.“This complicated condition is also associated with complex weather conditions that have affected the SEN infrastructure,” the update said.Sep 27, 8:33 PM EDT Some Florida residents begin evacuating ahead of Ian’s landfallSome Florida residents have begun evacuating their homes as Hurricane Ian approaches.People are seeking shelter ahead of the storm, which is currently forecast to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane sometime Wednesday afternoon.Ian remains a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph as of Tuesday might.It’s moving north-northeast at 10 mph and the center is located about 180 miles south-southwest of Punta Gorda, Florida.There have been multiple tornado warnings in the area over the past few hours. A large tornado was reported on the ground in southern Broward County, near Davie, at around 7:30 p.m. ET.Sep 27, 7:34 PM EDT Satellite images show lightning-packed eye of Hurricane IanHurricane Ian is barreling toward Florida, and satellite images show the eye of the storm packed with lightning as it strengthens over the Gulf of Mexico.The storm is currently forecast to make landfall on Florida’s western coast on Wednesday between 1 and 6 p.m., somewhere between Port Charlotte and Sarasota.See the latest maps and read more about Hurricane Ian’s projections and possible paths here.Sep 27, 6:31 PM EDT DeSantis on Hurricane Ian: ‘This thing is the real deal, it is a major, major storm’Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged Floridians to take Hurricane Ian seriously as the powerful storm heads to the state.“You don’t get a mulligan when your personal safety is at risk,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.About 2.5 million people in the state are under evacuation orders.“This thing is the real deal. It is a major, major storm,” DeSantis said.-ABC News’ Darren ReynoldsSep 27, 5:43 PM EDT 5,000 Florida Guardsmen activated and prepping for Hurricane IanFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis has activated 5,000 Florida National Guardsmen to armories across the state in preparation for Hurricane Ian, which is forecast to hit the state on Wednesday.Roughly 2,000 National Guard members from neighboring states such as Tennessee are also being activated to assist, the Florida National Guard said in a statement Tuesday.“The Florida National Guard is well-equipped, with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats, generators and more,” the statement said.The U.S. Navy has authorized non-essential personnel in various Florida counties to evacuate.-ABC News’ Matt SeylerSep 27, 5:12 PM EDT Landfall forecast for Wednesday afternoon or eveningHurricane Ian, barreling north toward Florida with 120 mph winds, is now located about 230 miles away from Sarasota.Ian is expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon or early evening.Ian’s outer bands are already hitting South Florida, bringing a threat of heavy downpours, strong wind gusts, frequent lightning and even tornadoes. A tornado watch is in effect for South Florida until 5 a.m. Wednesday.-ABC News’ Dan PeckSep 27, 4:51 PM EDT Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando to closeWalt Disney World and Universal Orlando will close Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm.Sep 27, 3:56 PM EDT Coastal Georgia, South Carolina under tropical storm watchesAs Ian moves north over Florida, tropical storm force winds will reach coastal Georgia and South Carolina.Tropical storm watches have been issued for Savannah and near Charleston.Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency.Sep 27, 2:57 PM EDT Ian, a Category 3, expected to strengthen moreIan, now a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, has strengthened on Tuesday and is forecast to strengthen even more into the night.People walk through a flooded street in Batabano, Cuba, Sept. 27, 2022, during the…Read MoreThe latest track shows Ian making landfall on Wednesday, striking the west coast of Florida between Tampa and Fort Myers, bringing flooding and damaging winds.Hurricane warnings are in effect from Tampa to Fort Myers and storm surge warnings are in effect for a large portion of Florida’s west coast.There is also a risk for tornadoes in Florida Tuesday and Wednesday.Sep 27, 2:34 PM EDT FEMA: ‘Do not underestimate’ IanFederal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday, “Floridians are going to experience the impacts from the storm for a very long time.”“Our biggest concern as we wait for this storm to make landfall is storm surge,” Criswell said. “In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge. So therefore, if people are told to evacuate by their local officials, please listen to them. The decision you choose to make may mean the difference between life and death.”President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged residents to “evacuate when ordered.”Biden said he spoke to the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater Tuesday morning and told them to “contact me directly” for “whatever they need.”Criswell said a search and rescue coordination group has been activated, including members from FEMA’s urban search and rescue teams, the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.The Red Cross has established 29 shelters and is prepared to open 60 more shelters if needed, she said.Criswell stressed, “To those who may be watching at home, get ready and do not underestimate the potential that the storm can bring.”Sep 27, 2:28 PM EDT Orlando’s airport closing WednesdayThe Orlando International Airport said operations will stop at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday while Tampa International Airport is suspending flights at 5 p.m. Tuesday.The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is closing at 8 p.m. Tuesday while the Melbourne Orlando International Airport will stop flights at 2 p.m. Wednesday.Sep 27, 12:25 PM EDT Orlando’s airport closing Wednesday The Orlando International Airport said operations will stop at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday while Tampa International Airport is suspending flights at 5 p.m. Tuesday.Sep 27, 12:03 PM EDT Coastal Georgia, South Carolina under tropical storm watchesAs Ian moves north over Florida, tropical storm force winds will reach coastal Georgia and South Carolina.Tropical storm watches have been issued for Savannah and near Charleston.Sep 27, 11:13 AM EDT Landfall in Florida forecast for Wednesday afternoonHurricane Ian’s track is moving south, with landfall forecast for late afternoon Wednesday between Tampa and Fort Myers as a Category 3 storm.The storm surge forecast for Tampa Bay has dropped from 10 feet to 8 feet. But now the predicted storm surge for Fort Myers has increased and could be as high as 12 feet. Sep 27, 9:41 AM EDT Tornado watches issued in South FloridaTornado watches have been issued in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples and Key West as Hurricane Ian approaches.The watches are in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.Sep 27, 8:25 AM EDT Latest forecast shows landfall in Tampa Bay areaThe forecast has shifted significantly east, now with landfall expected in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday night into early Thursday morning as a Category 3 hurricane.This would mark Tampa Bay’s first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.Slow-moving Ian is expected to drop more than 15 inches of rain from Tampa to Orlando.Major flooding is possible in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg.Sep 27, 5:00 AM EDT Hurricane Ian makes landfall after strengthening to major stormHurricane Ian made landfall over western Cuba early on Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.“Satellite and radar data indicate that the center of Ian has made landfall just southwest of the town of La Coloma in the Pinar Del Rio Province of Cuba at 4:30 a.m.,” the center said.Ian’s winds at landfall were estimated at a maximum of 125 mph, making the storm a Category 3 hurricane.Sep 26, 11:35 PM EDT Ian strengthens as winds grow to 105 mphHurricane Ian continued to intensify Monday night, with maximum sustained winds now at 105 mph.The hurricane is about 105 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, which is expected to see significant wind and storm surge impacts soon.The storm is expected to become a major hurricane overnight or Tuesday morning.Sep 26, 9:47 PM EDT Tampa International Airport to close as Ian approachesTampa International Airport will stop all operations starting 5 p.m. Tuesday to secure its airfield and terminals ahead of Hurricane Ian’s expected landfall later this week.Sep 26, 7:14 PM EDT HHS secretary declares public health emergency for FloridaThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency for the state of Florida.HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made the declaration Monday to address the possible health impacts for Florida residents once Hurricane Ian nears the state.“We will do all we can to assist Florida officials with responding to the health impacts of Hurricane Ian,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are working closely with state, local, and tribal health authorities, as well as our federal partners, and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support.”HHS has pre-positioned two 15-person health and medical task force teams from its National Disaster Medical System, as well as a 13-person incident management team and two pharmacists to assist with the response in Florida.“These teams are highly trained and ready to respond if, when, and where they may be needed following the storm,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday. That declaration was approved by President Joe Biden on Sunday.Sep 26, 6:59 PM EDT Hurricane warning issued for Tampa Bay areaThe National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for the Tampa Bay area just after its 5 p.m. advisory for Hurricane Ian.The hurricane, currently a Category 2, is forecast to strengthen before it slows down as it approaches land. It is then expected to hover off the coast of Tampa from Wednesday into Thursday before making landfall.A hurricane watch has also been issued for Big Bend, Florida, near the panhandle, and tropical storm warnings are in effect for much of southwest Florida.Tropical storm watches are in effect for Orlando toward the northeast portion of the state, from Fort Pierce to Jacksonville.-ABC News’ Melissa GriffinSep 26, 6:21 PM EDT Florida utility company to use remote grid technology to restore power during the stormThe emergency response from Florida Power & Light is “well underway” as Hurricane Ian approaches, the utility company announced Monday.FP&L has mobilized 13,000 workers, as well as supplies, to ensure the response is conducted as safely and quickly as possible after the storm hits, according to a press release.As the hurricane begins to bear down on the region, FP&L will use remote grid technology to restore power remotely during the storm, as long as it is safe to do so, the company said. After the storm passes and winds drop below 35 mph, FP&L will continue restoration and conduct damage assessments with field crews.The utility company also urged customers to make preparations and take safety precautions.“As this storm approaches Florida, we know our customers are counting on us and we are determined to meet this challenge,” said Eric Silagy, chairman and CEO of FP&L in a statement. “We are mobilizing and pre-positioning our restoration workforce, so these brave men and women can quickly start working as soon as it is safe to do so.”-ABC News’ Matt FosterSep 26, 3:58 PM EDT Florida State University cancels classesFlorida State University has canceled classes Tuesday through Friday as Hurricane Ian approaches.“The cancellation of classes on Tuesday is to allow students to travel safely out of the area if they so choose,” the university said. “Students who choose to stay in Tallahassee will be advised via the FSU Alert system to follow a ‘shelter in place’ protocol during the storm.”Sep 26, 3:38 PM EDT St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to closeThe St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to the mandatory evacuation orders in Pinellas County. The airport will stay closed until the evacuation order is lifted.Sep 26, 2:55 PM EDT 1st mandatory evacuation orders issuedMandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”Some residents of Sarasota County and Manatee County are also under mandatory evacuation orders.-ABC News’ Alex FaulSep 26, 2:01 PM EDT 7,000 National Guardsmen deployed to helpFive-thousand members of the Florida National Guard have been activated to help during Hurricane Ian. Another 2,000 guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also coming to help, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.Nearly 300 ambulances and support vehicles are being deployed to areas bracing for Ian’s landfall, DeSantis said.-ABC News’ Alex FaulSep 26, 12:43 PM EDT Tampa may shut down airportIn Tampa, where residents are bracing for 10 feet of dangerous storm surge, the Tampa International Airport may shut down parts of its airfield and facilities over the next day or two, airport officials announced.The airport is in an evacuation zone, but because it’s critical infrastructure, it’s “exempt from the storm evacuation order and will stay open until a closure is necessary,” airport officials said in a statement.It’s been 101 years since Tampa last had a direct hit from a major hurricane.Sep 26, 11:36 AM EDT Sarasota, Tampa-area schools closeHillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa will be closed Monday through Thursday due to the storm. Instead, some schools will operate as storm shelters, the district said.In Sarasota County, schools will be closed on Tuesday.Sep 26, 11:34 AM EDT First mandatory evacuation orders issuedMandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”Sep 26, 10:43 AM EDT NASA rolling Artemis rocket back off launch padNASA said it will roll the Artemis I rocket off the launch pad and back to the vehicle assembly building on Monday night due to the storm.“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA said in a statement. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system.”Sep 26, 10:08 AM EDT Floodwater safety tips to rememberAs Ian approaches, here are a few commonsense strategies to help avoid unnecessary risk from floodwaters:–Before flooding, look up your neighborhood’s flood zone and determine if your home or business is prone to flooding. Come up with an evacuation plan and make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Stock up on non-perishable foods.–After flooding, ensure your drinking water is sanitized and wash your hands thoroughly after contact with floodwaters. Disinfect objects that have come into contact with floodwater before offering them to children or toddlers.–Try to avoid exposure with floodwaters for long periods of time to prevent physical injury. Wear waterproof boots if you have them. Do not attempt to drive over flooded streets as it could damage the car and strand passengers.Click here for more.Sep 26, 10:01 AM EDT White House closely monitoring IanThe White House is “closely monitoring” the hurricane, a White House official told ABC News.President Joe Biden approved Florida’s emergency assistance request this weekend “as soon as he received it,” the official said.“He also directed his team to surge Federal assistance to the region well before landfall,” the official said. “FEMA has already deployed staff there and pre-positioned food, water, and generators.”Biden was scheduled to travel to Florida on Monday but that trip has been postponed due to the storm.-ABC News’ Karen TraversSep 26, 8:23 AM EDT Hurricane watch issued for Tampa, Fort Myers, NaplesIan is expected to become major Category 3 hurricane Monday night with winds of 115 mph.As Ian passes Cuba, it’s expected to rapidly intensify, becoming a Category 4 hurricane as it moves through the Gulf. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Cuba and the Cayman Islands.Models are split when it comes to Ian’s landfall in Florida; impacts could be as far north as Panama City and as far south as Fort Myers.Some models forecast landfall by Wednesday afternoon between Tampa and Fort Myers, while other models predict landfall at the end of the week near Panama City or Apalachicola.Hurricane watches have been issued in Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples.-ABC News’ Max GolemboSep 26, 5:20 AM EDT Storm becomes Hurricane IanThe National Hurricane Center declared Ian a hurricane on Monday, as the storm gained strength on its way toward Florida.“A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay,” the center said on Monday.– ABC News’ Max GolemboSep 25, 10:19 PM EDT NASA to reconvene on whether to take Artemis rocket off launchpadNASA hasn’t decided whether to leave its Artemis I rocket on the launchpad as it monitors Tropical Storm Ian’s path toward Florida, the agency said Sunday.The federal space agency’s mission managers will continue discussions on Monday about the next steps as its rocket was delayed again.On Saturday, NASA scrapped its third planned launch attempt of Artemis I because of weather concerns. Artemis I was scheduled to launch on Sept. 27.Engineers will decide if the rocket needs to roll back off the launch pad. If they do not roll it back, the next possible launch date is Sunday, Oct. 2.Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Florida.NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.If the Oct. 2 launch doesn’t happen, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.-ABC News’ Gina Sunseri, Mary Kekatos and Nadine El-BawabSep 25, 10:27 PM EDT Ian strengthens once again, forecast to become hurricane on MondayTropical Storm Ian has strengthened with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph and is expected to get stronger throughout the night as atmospheric conditions become more favorable for the storm.Ian is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday, becoming even more intense likely into Tuesday.Ian is moving to the northwest to the Northwest at 12 mph, with the center located 160 miles away from Grand Cayman.Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are expected to experience heavy rain, a heavy surge and possible flash flooding over the next 24 hours.-ABC News’ Dan PeckSep 25, 5:45 PM EDT Ian weakens slightly but will regain strength overnightTropical Storm Ian has weakened slightly, but it is expected to not only strengthen but rapidly intensify overnight as it travels over warm waters in the Caribbean.As of 5 p.m. ET, the storm system had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph, with the center located about 220 miles away from Grand Cayman.Dry air ahead of the storm has delayed the strengthening trend so far. But the rapid intensification is expected to occur Monday into Tuesday as the system continues across the northwestern Caribbean and closes in on western Cuba.Over the next 24 hours, the outer bands will impact Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, bringing rounds of heavy rain, possible flash flooding and storm surge. Later Monday and into Monday night, Ian will be closing in on western Cuba and will likely bring significant wind and storm surge impacts to the region.A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Cayman and portions of western Cuba. A tropical storm watch has been issued for portions of western Cuba, as well as the lower Florida Keys, including Key West.As of 5 p.m., the forecast track was nudged slightly eastward. Overall, the forecast guidance variability and uncertainty will remain high, and the track for where the storm will be from the middle to the end of the week will continue to shift over the next 24 to 48 hours.-ABC News’ Dan PeckCopyright © 2022, ABC Audio. 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