Hurricane Ian strengthened overnight to a near-Category 5 storm that was expected to make landfall this afternoon on the west coast of Florida near Port Charlotte. The storm has already spawned several tornadoes in the area, one of which struck North Perry Airport in Hollywood, Florida, last night, damaging several light aircraft. As of this morning, more than 200,000 residents were without power.
The 80-mile-wide storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph with gusts up to 190 mph, and if it maintains that ferocity, it would be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the state’s Gulf Coast. Much of Central Florida will remain under a hurricane watch until at least 5 p.m. this evening but given the slow movement of Ian, that could last longer with tropical storm force winds persisting for as long as 24 hours.
Many airports and FBOs have already issued closure notices, with the latest being Naples Airport, which closed its tower and FBO last night until further notice. The Naples Airport Authority anticipates the closure to last throughout Wednesday and into Thursday, pending an examination of the airport for any damage. NBAA’s air traffic services desk has published a complete list of airport closures.