Hurricane Ian continues to weaken as it crosses Florida Peninsula after slamming into Gulf Coast as a Category 4

Hurricane Watch is in effect for coastal Flagler, St. Johns, Duval, Nassau & coastal Camden and Glynn counties

Latest update from the NHC at 2 a.m. Thursday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hurricane Ian slammed Southwest Florida on Wednesday, making landfall as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm just after 3 p.m.

A 7 p.m. Wednesday update from the National Hurricane Center showed the storms winds had been downgraded to 125 mph max sustained winds — making it Category 3 strength, and by 8 p.m., those winds were down to 115 mph.

At 9 p.m., maximum gusts were down to 105 mph, bringing the storm down to Category 2 strength. Two hours later, the storm was down to 90 mph max winds — Category 1 strength.

It continued to weaken overnight and by 2 a.m. was down to 75 mph sustained winds — just over the threshold of remaining a hurricane.

Flooding rains continue across central and northern Florida as Ian is expected to move into the Atlantic on Thursday.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for coastal Flagler, St. Johns, Duval, Nassau & coastal Camden and Glynn counties.

Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for Inland Nassau, Baker, Union, Bradford and Alachua counties.

A Storm Surge Warning remains in effect for the St. Johns River and the Flagler/Volusia county line to the mouth of the St. Marys River, including Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler, Clay and Putnam counties.

Tropical Storm Warning continues from Flamingo to South Santee River, including Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Clay, Duval, and coastal Nassau.

More than 2.3 million Florida homes and businesses were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us. The storm previously tore into Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before Ian hit, but by law no one could be forced to flee. Nearly every home and business in three counties were without power.

FROM JOHN GAUGHAN: Monster Ian’s track clarifies details for Jacksonville | EXACT TRACK 4D: Latest projected path, track & impacts of Hurricane Ian

Stay with The Weather Authority and News4JAX.com for updates throughout the next several days.

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Latest advisory

At 2 a.m., the center of Hurricane Ian was located near latitude 27.7 North, longitude 81.1 West. Ian is moving toward the northeast at 9 mph (15 km/h), and a turn toward the north-northeast and north is expected during the next couple of days.

On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move across central Florida this morning and emerge over the western Atlantic later today. Ian is forecast to turn northward on Friday and approach the northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts. Further weakening is expected for the next day or so, but Ian could be near hurricane strength when it moves over the Florida East coast later today, and when it approaches the northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts on Friday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). A WeatherFlow station at New Smyrna Beach, Florida, recently reported a sustained wind of 55 mph (89 km/h) and a gust to 86 mph (139 km/h). A sustained wind of 39 mph (63 km/h) and a gust to 66 mph (106 km/h) were recently reported at Melbourne, Florida.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 980 mb (28.94 inches).

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • North of Bonita Beach to Anclote River, including Tampa Bay
  • Sebastian Inlet to Flagler/Volusia County Line

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Suwanee River southward to Flamingo
  • Tampa Bay
  • Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the St. Marys River
  • St. Johns River

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Indian Pass to the Anclote River
  • Boca Raton to Sebastian Inlet
  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to Surf City
  • Lake Okeechobee
  • Bimini and Grand Bahama Islands

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to the South Santee River

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for:

  • North of South Santee River to Little River Inlet

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Surf City to Cape Lookout

About the Authors:

Our chief meteorologist lives and breathes the weather on the First Coast.

David Heckard is The Weather Authority's Assistant Chief Meteorologist.