Hurricane Ian: Millions ordered to evacuate as Florida faces first direct hit in 100 years

Florida is braced for hurricane Ian after it wreaked havoc in Cuba - Emma Murphy reports

The name Ian doesn’t really carry the air of menace this hurricane holds for the Florida coast. But however ill suited its name, the storm barrelling towards the central and southern parts of this state has the potential to do very serious harm to life and livelihood.

As Cuba assesses the damage, with power knocked out across the country, this part of the Eastern seaboard of the US is braced for “catastrophic and devastating” consequences.

At this point Ian is coming towards shore as a Category 4 hurricane, just one short of the maximum force.

Around 2.5 million people have already been ordered to evacuate. Not all have, but in huge numbers Floridians have packed what they can and left home for higher land. Many shops are shut and boarded up, the same for hotels.

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At Tampa airport the apron stands deserted, all flights have been cancelled and the planes moved out of the path of harm. Nursing homes have moved residents to more secure locations, hospitals have also moved what patients they can.

The worry is that as the storm passes the Gulf of Mexico the warmer temperatures will send winds up to 130 mph. The damage is expected to be spread across an 140 mile wide swathe of the state. It is a slow moving storm and that can only make things worse.

Hurricane Ian is pictured over the Gulf of Mexico.

Trying to predict exactly where the hurricane will make landfall is still tricky. Yesterday, Tampa looked like it was going to take a direct hit only for the path to fall slightly south towards Sarasota, but even now it’s impossible to say for sure.

The only thing that is certain is the damage the wind and rain will do. It’s 101 years since the region took a direct hit and in the coming hours it will once again be subject to nature’s wrath.