Airports across southern Florida felt Ian’s wrath well ahead of the arrival of hurricane-force winds, as tornadoes spawned by the outer bands of wind and rain flipped parked aircraft at North Perry Airport in Hollywood in Broward County, on the southeast coast of the state. The National Weather Service reported the eyewall’s arrival over land at noon Eastern time, noting an hour later wind gusts above 100 mph reported from various stations.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds were clocked at near 155 mph (just 2 mph short of Category 5) with higher gusts as of 8 a.m., and the National Hurricane Center warned of “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida Peninsula.” Millions of people had been told to head for higher ground ahead of the approaching storm.
The storm turned south of the previous projections in its final approach to Florida, sparing Tampa from potentially catastrophic inundation, but redirecting that forecast—and the highest predicted storm surge—squarely at communities to the south, from Port Charlotte to Fort Myers south to Naples, a region that could see widespread inundation of nine feet or more above ground. Several airports were located in areas expected to be flooded, including Punta Gorda Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport, Naples Municipal Airport, and several others including private airstrips on the barrier islands where the storm made landfall.
General aviation relief pilots were advised by AERObridge to confirm their membership and email communications pending a possible activation, with further updates promised via social media.
Public officials voiced concern that residents who recall Hurricane Charley’s visit to the same area in 2004 might not appreciate the significantly greater danger posed by Hurricane Ian. While the wind velocities were similar, Ian is a much larger, slower storm expected to push significantly more water ashore.