As Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, its winds were only a few miles per hour shy of qualifying it as a Category 5 hurricane. And it did not take long for it to unleash its wrath on the electricity grids of Florida.
Wednesday about noon, Ian’s eye began to move ashore on Sanibel and Captiva islands. Before 2:30 p.m. ET, more than 660,000 consumers experienced a power outage, as tracked by poweroutage.us. Two hours later, the number of outages topped 1 million. After sunset, the figure increased once more, bringing the total number of individuals without electricity as of 10:00 p.m. to more than two million individuals. And shortly after 5 a.m., nearly 2.5 million households and businesses were without power.
Southwest Florida bore the worst of the repercussions. As of Thursday morning, nearly every customer in numerous counties, including DeSoto, Charlotte, and Lee, was without power. According to poweroutage.us, at least half of all customers in many surrounding counties, including Manatee, Sarasota, Collier, Highlands, and Glades, were without power.
Major interruptions were reported as far north as Citrus County along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Smaller disturbances continued to encroach on the panhandle.
Along Florida’s eastern coast, there were also disruptions. Even though Miami-Dade County was severely affected by power outages, power was gradually restored during the day. Outages were also observed inland and in every single county along the state’s eastern coast.
Florida officials have been warning about potential power outages for days. When Hurricane Ian swept across Cuba on Tuesday, it knocked out power to the entire island, but some parts have since had power restored.
Prior to landfall, the National Weather Service predicted that Hurricane Ian would cause “catastrophic” wind damage in southwest Florida. The head of the service, Ken Graham, stated during a press briefing on Wednesday that the storm’s journey across the state would take 24 hours after the eye made landfall.
“This storm will be remembered for many years to come,” he said.
Florida Power & Light, the primary provider to the homes and businesses experiencing outages, tweeted on Wednesday that “extensive, widespread” outages were anticipated. More than 1 million of the more than 5.7 million consumers tracked by PowerOutage.us had reportedly lost power.
We advise you to maintain vigilance regardless of where you reside. We anticipate widespread, protracted disruptions throughout a large portion of our service region due to Hurricane Ian. Please take precautions and remain safe. pic.twitter.com/rpDP4CdhmA
September 28, 2022 — Florida Power & Light (@insideFPL)
Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie stated on Wednesday that more than 30,000 linemen were “positioned and ready” to help restore power as soon as it is safe to do so. Later in the day, Governor Ron DeSantis reported that the figure had risen to 42,000.