Hurricane Ian made landfall in south western Florida just after 8am today New Zealand time as a major Category 4 storm.
As of 2pm New Zealand time Ian had “weakened” to a Category 3 storm, but still had winds strong enough to completely destroy homes.
For perspective, at Category 4, Ian had SUSTAINED winds of 240km/h at landfall – stronger than any storm system that could ever impact New Zealand. Five hours later – and over central inland Florida – Ian had weakened to a Category 3 storm, but still has sustained winds of 185km/h – again, stronger than anything NZ could experience. “The only time New Zealand records winds over 200km/h is with gusty winds interacting with the tops of our mountains and ranges – and even then it’s rare” says WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan. “To have sustained winds at sea level well above our maximum gusts on our mountain tops really shows how major this storm is for Florida”.
Duncan also says the storm surge in parts of Florida has now exceeded 400cm (4 metres / 12 feet). “In New Zealand our Civil Defence orders people off beaches when we have a coastal tsunami of just 20cm or less. While a tsunami and a hurricane’s storm surge are two different beasts, it does highlight how major Ian is”.
Most hurricanes hit Florida from the east or south east. This storm came in from the Gulf side, to the west, which makes it historic. Tampa – the biggest city in the west – hasn’t had a storm this big for over 100 years.
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