If Hurricane Ian reaches its current intensity or higher, it will be the strongest storm ever recorded along the west coast of the Florida peninsula.
Hurricane Ian underwent another bout of rapid intensification in the past 24 hours, with top winds increasing by 40 mph (from 115 to 155 mph) in about 16 hours.
Hurricanes that rapidly intensified in the 24 hours before landfall have become increasingly common in recent years. This happened with Hurricanes Michael, Ida, and Harvey, among others.
What we know about the storm: The storm surge in Southwest Florida is likely never seen in the region.
Hurricane Charley, also a Category 4, hit the same area in 2004 and produced a maximum of 6 to 7 feet of storm surge. That could be at least double that.
The storm surge is expected to be higher than Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that brought 9 to 14 feet of surge to the Panhandle in 2018.
Size of Hurricane Ian: Ian is a massive hurricane, which will worsen the storm surge and spread damage over a larger area. Hurricane-force sustained winds extend more than 80 miles across this storm. That’s nearly twice the size of Hurricane Charley when it hit the same region (45 miles in diameter).
Tropical storm force winds also extended more than 320 miles, a distance that would reach from Washington, DC to Cleveland, Ohio.
About Ian’s speed: Ian is moving at 10 miles per hour and will slow further after landfall, less than half the speed Hurricane Charley was moving at 22 miles per hour. This will increase the potential storm surge that Ian creates, as well as expose areas to strong winds and flooding rains for longer periods of time.
The storm is expected to weaken after landfall, moving only 6 to 7 mph and taking more than 24 hours to move across Florida.
This could expose areas to hurricane force winds for eight hours or more, and tropical storm force winds for more than 24 hours.