National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Reyes said 10-15 inches of rain is expected to fall in the path of the storm but it is “very, very possible” some parts of Florida could see up to 24 inches of rain if the storm maintains its strength.
“In terms of the impact, the catastrophic damage it is inflicting, it is basically the same we would see in a full-fledged Category 5 storm,” Reyes told NewsNation.
The storm is going to continue moving in a northeastern direction, dumping torrential amounts of rain on the inland portion of the state overnight Wednesday into Thursday, NewsNation meteorologist Dax Clark said.
“Orlando, buckle up, it’s coming for you next,” Clark said.
Ian will begin to move back into the Atlantic Ocean by Thursday night before shifting back northwest toward the Carolinas over the weekend.
“Saturday, it becomes a big rainmaker,” Clark said.
Hurricane watches are in effect for areas along the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Storm surges can be expected in those areas.
Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S.
About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before the storm hit, but by law, no one could be forced to flee. Though expected to weaken as it marches inland at about 9 mph, Ian’s hurricane-force winds were being felt well into central Florida.
Forecasters said some western Florida residents could be inundated by a storm surge of up to 18 feet.
This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.