Hurricane Ian plowed into Southwest Florida Wednesday afternoon as a devastating and deadly Category 4 storm.
Ian brought threats ranging from sweeping and widespread storm surge to heavy winds and persistent rains.
The National Weather Service is still gathering information on the final weather numbers for the storm, and many of the reporting towers that were planted in the worst-hit areas failed before the heaviest of winds.
But here’s a look at some preliminary numbers from NWS in Ruskin (which covers Lee and Charlotte counties) and NWS in Miami (which covers the Naples area).
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Hurricane Ian winds
The top gust recorded by an NWS station was 155 miles per hour, and that burst hit the Punta Gorda airport.
Other data at airport was not available as of Friday.
“It took the data but it’s not transmitting,” said Nicole Carlisle, a meteorologist with NWS in Ruskin. “And we’re still working on gather all the information because some of the sensors down there didn’t last.”
That 155 mile per hour gust was the strongest NWS recorded Wednesday.
Gusts in Cape Coral reached 140 miles per hour, Carlisle said.
Carlisle said NWS will have sustained wind information after the agency is better able to assess the area.
Teams of experts will have to assess the situation on the ground to get exact details on how the storm played out.
Winds topped out at 112 miles per hour at Pelican Landing in Collier County, the highest wind speed measured there.
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“We have gust data but there was several above hurricane strength,” said Sammy Hadi, a meteorologist with the NWS in Miami, which covers the Naples area. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, looking back it is higher because some of the gauges didn’t finish reporting and some stopped at 11:20 a.m.”
Hurricane Ian rainfall
Prior to the storm, the Lee County area was expected to get as much as 2 feet of localized rain, but the highest total Carlisle could find for Lee County was 14.4 inches in Lehigh Acres.
“Lee received anywhere from between 4 and 6 inches for the most part, but there was 9 inches of rain in some areas,” Carlisle said.
To the South, in Collier County, rain totals reached at least 5 to 6 inches in some areas.
But, due to power outages, many of the NWS gauge stopped recording data around 11:30 a.m.
Hurricane Ian storm surge
Storm surge devastated many coastal communities, leaving homes flooded and streets filled with mud and raw sewage.
“Water level overall in Fort Myers was about 8 feet above what it usually is,” Carlisle said. “Now we have all the lasting water from all the rain and the river flooding.”
Hadi said it’s difficult to determine the exact storm surge levels but reports of 5 feet have been made.
“That’s still one thing that’s being determined,” Hadi said. “We have a team out there surveying it. There was as gauge at the Naples Pier but unfortunately the data stopped, and we don’t know if it survived at this point.”
Water levels in the Caloosahatchee River rose about seven feet above normal in downtown Fort Myers during Hurricane Ian, according to federal tide data.
Water levels at the Naples pier rose about six feet above normal before the station stopped collecting data early Wednesday afternoon during the hurricane. It is currently disabled.
The data comes from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gages. There are not stations on Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach.
However, if the water level rose more than 10 feet on Fort Myers Beach, as many residents suspect, Ian could be considered a 100-year-flood event based on water levels, according to pending FEMA flood maps. That means the chances of a storm like Ian hitting is once every 100 years. If the water levels rose more than 12 feet there, it would be considered a 500-year-flood event based on water levels, according to the flood maps.
Governor Ron DeSantis has called Ian “basically a 500-year flood event.”
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