Hurricane Ian unleashes tornadoes in Florida, will make landfall at 4 pm and will cause an estimated $45 billion in damage

Ian is already lashing Florida’s west coast before making landfall with 155mph winds, leaving 17,000 homes without power,

Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Stunning satellite images show lightning shooting around Hurricane Ian’s huge rotating eye as the “apocalyptic” storm approaches Florida on Wednesday after knocking out power in Cuba.

The time frame established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been met, while more than 2.5 million people in the state are urged to evacuate before the eye of the cyclone hits on Wednesday night.

Other images from space showed the storm cutting a massive swath across the globe as it moved through the Caribbean Sea.

“Air Force Hurricane Hunters find Ian has become an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

The Photos show the extent of damage left behind by the ‘extremely dangerous’ hurricane as it moves north through Florida, where forecasters have warned it should make landfall around 4 p.m.

It is “expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding” in Florida, the advisory warned.

Ian is already lashing Florida’s west coast before making landfall with 155 mph winds, leaving 17,000 homes without power as multiple tornadoes are dragging waves of destruction across the state.

The Category 4 storm is closing in on Category 5 hours before making landfall in Florida, after leaving two dead and decimating swathes of Cuba.

Two people have already been rushed to the hospital after a tornado hit an apartment building for people 55 and older in Kings Point, Delray Beach, on Tuesday night.

Large trees were knocked to the ground as parts of the building were completely destroyed and uprooted and residents were evacuated when the tornado hit.

Another tornado hit southeast Florida, bringing rain and images showing a nearly flooded parking lot as palm trees swayed in strong winds.

Damage is expected to reach $45 billion as the storm continues to grow in strength, with more than two million Floridians being urged to evacuate.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ian has exceeded previous estimates for top wind speeds of 130 mph and is centered about 75 miles from Florida and moving north at a forward speed of 10mph

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued in dozens of Florida’s coastal counties, and voluntary evacuations were recommended in several others.

The major hurricane has prompted warnings of a possible dangerous storm surge that could reach 12 feet, deadly winds and flooding along the densely populated Gulf Coast, from Bonita Beach to the Tampa Bay region.

Floridians have been quick to board up their homes, stash precious belongings on upper floors and flee.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that there had already been at least two ‘radar-indicated tornadoes’ in the state, warning those in the areas projected to be hardest hit that their ‘time to evacuate is coming. to its end’.

“You have to evacuate now. You are going to start feeling major impacts from this storm relatively soon,” she said.

More than 11 million in Cuba are without power after the first winds of the powerful category 3 storm hit the island’s southern coast Monday through Tuesday night, killing two and causing a complete collapse of the electrical system.