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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Ian Powers Up To A Category 4 Hurricane As It Nears Florida

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St. Petersburg (US), Sept 28: Hurricane Ian intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm as it approached Florida and forecasters predicted it would retain top winds of 220 kph until landfall on Wednesday afternoon.

Tropical storm force winds and rain were already hitting the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast, with the Naples to Sarasota region at “highest risk” of a devastating storm surge.

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U.S. Air Force hurricane hunters confirmed Ian gained strength over warm Gulf of Mexico water after battering Cuba, bringing down the country’s electricity grid and leaving the entire island without power.


The hurricane could push as much as 12 feet of ocean water ashore in Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami said, urging people to evacuate the danger zone if they still can.

More than 2.5 million people were under mandatory evacuation orders, but by law no one could be forced to flee.

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Ian was centred about 100 kilometers west-southwest of Naples at 6 a.m., swirling toward the coast at 17 kph.


Florida residents rushed ahead of the impact to board up their homes, stash precious belongings on upper floors and flee.

“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair, who drove inland from the Tampa area Tuesday with his wife, son, dog and two kittens seeking a hotel in the tourist district of Orlando. “We live in a high risk zone, so we thought it best to evacuate.”

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The hurricane centre predicted Ian would roar ashore Wednesday afternoon. Winds exceeding tropical-storm strength of 63 kph reached Florida by 3 a.m. and hurricane-force winds were expected in Florida well in advance of the eyewall moving inland, the Miami-based centre said.

Rainfall near the area of landfall could top 46 centimeters.

“It is a big storm, it is going to kick up a lot of water as it comes in,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in Sarasota, a coastal city of 57,000 in the storm’s projected path. “This the kind of storm surge that is life threatening.”


Ian’s forward movement slowed over the Gulf, enabling the hurricane to grow wider and stronger.

A hurricane warning covered roughly 350 kilometers of the state.

Tampa and St. Petersburg were included, and could potentially get their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

Gil Gonzalez wasn’t taking any chances. He boarded the windows of his Tampa home with plywood and laid down sandbags to guard against any flooding. He and his wife packed their car with bottled water, flashlights, battery packs for their cellphones and a camp stove before evacuating.


“All the prized possessions, we’ve put them upstairs in a friend’s house,” Gonzalez said.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West closed. Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orlando all closed ahead of the storm.

The precise location of landfall was still uncertain, but with Ian’s tropical storm-force winds extending 280 kilometers from its centre, damage was expected across a wide area of Florida.

Flash floods were possible across the whole state, and portions of its east coast faced a potential storm surge threat as Ian’s bands approach the Atlantic Ocean. Warnings also were issued for isolated tornadoes.


Florida Power and Light warned those in Ian’s path to brace for days without electricity.

As a precaution, hundreds of residents were being evacuated from several nursing homes in the Tampa area, where hospitals also were moving some patients.

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina also could see flooding rains and some coastal surge into Saturday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp preemptively declared an emergency, ordering 500 National Guard troops onto standby to respond as needed.


Before turning toward Florida, Ian struck Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province with sustained winds of 205 kph and causing destruction in the island nation’s world-famous tobacco belt.

No deaths were reported. (AP)


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The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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