Report: Hurricane Ian reached Category 5 just before landfall

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

According to a report from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian reached Category 5 intensity just before its September landfall in Southwest Florida.

Ian’s extreme storm surge took a lot away from Southwest Florida, and we are still dealing with the issues it caused. But the hurricane also gave us the chance to learn: The new NHC report gives us an idea of what’s to come next if a hurricane of any strength hits our shores again.

Monday was Tom Dillard’s first venture to the beach from Cape Coral since Ian hammered us six months ago.

“This one just devastated everybody,: Dillard said. “They’ve done a lot of work here. But they got a lot more work to do.”

When he looks around at what’s left after the hurricane, one thing comes to his mind: “I think this ought to be a 5, too.”

To Dillard, there was no surprise that the NHC upgraded Ian retroactively. Not at landfall, but when the hurricane was parallel to our coast west of Naples. The storm slowed down to Category 4 strength before slamming Fort Myers Beach.

“Some people just got completely wiped out of everything, and the water seemed to be the worst enemy,” Dillard said.

WINK News spoke with NHC’s Robbie Berg. He says the water was Hurricane Ian’s worst element.

“If it’s really bad… where it was up to 10 to 15 feet above ground level, you just can’t survive that environment,” berg said.

36 people in Lee County did not. Those deaths were a direct result of the powerful storm surge.

“That’s why we need people to get out of harm’s way before the storms hit,” Berg said.

The report mentions that, in terms of impact, “there is very little practical difference between a 140-kt Category 5 and a 135-kt Category 4 hurricane.”

Read the full report here.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.