Timelapse video shows rapid flooding on Florida island as Hurricane Ian creates dangerous storm surge

The area is expected to see up to 18 feet of storm surge

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Thursday 29 September 2022 22:55 BST
Dramatic time-lapse shows Hurricane Ian storm surge flood Florida island

Footage from Sanibel Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast shows just how fast Hurricane Ian brought dangerous flooding and storm surge conditions to the area on Wednesday morning.

A time-lapse video of an intersection on the island starts off with winds and heavy rain, but the road quickly gives way to surging waters that completely cover the median and rise halfway up a street sign.

Sanibel Island sits off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida – the region forecast to see some of the worst damage from the storm.

Twitter user @BirdingPeepWx uploaded the video to social media, saying it was a time-lapse of 30 minutes of traffic camera footage.

The intersection isn’t right along the coast; it’s about in the middle of the island, slightly closer to the bay side. Notably, the video clearly shows the whole intersection inundated, which could be an indication of conditions on the rest of the island as the hurricane sweeps through.

Waters had risen more than six feet (1.8 metres) in Fort Myers by 5:00 PM local time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. More than 70 per cent of customers are also without power in Lee County, home to Sanibel Island, according to poweroutage.us.

The full extent of the damage will become clearer as the weather clears up and officials can visit affected areas.

Hurricane Ian started bringing rough weather conditions to southwest Florida early Wednesday morning, but conditions quickly deteriorated in the path of the storm. By 3:05 PM, the storm had made landfall just north of Sanibel Island.

Storm surge in the area was expected to reach up to 18 feet (5.5 metres) in the Fort Myers area, the highest storm surge expected.

In addition, intense winds are blowing through the area as the core of the hurricane sweeps onto land. Ian made landfall as a near-Category 5 storm, with wind speeds of 150 miles per hour (241 kilometres per hour).

Prior to the storm, officials urged people in low-lying areas, including on Sanibel Island, to evacuate.

The storm is forecast to track to the northwest across Florida, bringing dangerous weather conditions to central and northwest Florida, as well as Georgia and South Carolina, over the next couple of days.

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