Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 storm. Residents across the state were hunkered down, with widespread power outages, damage and at least one fatality likely linked to the storm.
Officials in Palm Beach County said the body of a 34-year-old man had been found in floodwaters in Martin County, Florida. The cause of death was still under investigation, although rescue workers said it was likely linked to the hurricane.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Service reported water levels had surged more than 6 feet above normal high tide levels in Naples, Florida, just before Ian made landfall. That figure was far higher than the record of 4.25 feet set during 2017’s Hurricane Irma.
By Wednesday afternoon, Ian was barreling toward Florida with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, just shy of becoming a Category 5 monster. Just hours later the National Hurricane Center said Ian had made landfall as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane.
The hurricane’s power had sucked seawater from Tampa Bay in what’s known as a negative storm surge. Officials said the phenomenon could prove dangerous when the water returns, propelled by fierce winds. Residents were warned to stay away from shorelines with receding tides, saying the whiplash could be life-threatening.
More than 725,000 homes and businesses were without power in southern Florida, or about 10% of customers, according to the area’s electricity provider, Florida Power & Light. Another provider, Lee County Electric Cooperative, said more than 164,000 customers didn’t have electricity.