"Ian" in Punta Gorda, Florida
Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP
Hurricane Ian made landfall on the west coast of the US state of Florida.
The center of the hurricane of magnitude four out of five hit the coast near the city of Cape Coral at 250 kilometers per hour, as the US hurricane center announced.
It is therefore an "extremely dangerous hurricane" that is likely to lead to meter-high storm surges, flooding and heavy rainfall.
The authorities warned that serious damage to infrastructure, communication lines and widespread and sustained power outages are to be expected.
Sometimes meter-high floods
Evacuation instructions applied to 2.5 million people in the region.
The first photos and videos on social media already showed severe flooding in the cities of Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and Naples, some of which were several meters high.
Around 800,000 households in Florida were already without power on Wednesday afternoon (local time), according to the Poweroutage website.
Overland, the storm system should soon lose strength, the hurricane center said.
"Ian" could still have destructive hurricane strength on Thursday's arrival on the east coast of the state, the meteorologists warned.
The hurricane had increased significantly in strength over the Gulf of Mexico on its way towards Florida and, with wind speeds of around 240 kilometers per hour, was just below the threshold for the highest hurricane category.
Florida's governor Ron DeSantis had previously prepared the population in his state for severe damage from the approaching hurricane "Ian".
"This is a big, strong storm," DeSantis said in the morning in the Florida capital, Tallahassee.
"He'll do a lot of damage," he warned.
The Republican politician predicted that the next day or two would be "very ugly" before the hurricane passed Florida.
"It's going to be a tough stretch."
On Tuesday, "Ian" made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane at 205 kilometers per hour.
In the province of Pinar del Río, which was particularly hard hit, two people died after their houses collapsed, the Cuban government said.
In the state with a good eleven million inhabitants, the electricity failed nationwide.