Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall this afternoon near Fort Myers, Florida with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. In doing so, it became the fifth-largest storm to hit the continental United States — at least in recorded history — and the Weather Channel was there to cover it.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore was at ground zero to document the storm’s arrival, a mission that is not without risks.
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Cantore was reporting live on a man on the street in sustained winds of 61mph – gusting to 110mph – when he was thrown backwards as a tree branch crossed the street, knocking him kicked him in the leg and knocked him down.
Hurricane Ian: Complete Deadline Coverage
The footage also gives a sense of how hard Cantore must struggle to stay in place – much less upright – further evidence of which is the toppled traffic sign behind him as he clings to another for balance.
In what appears to be a later clip, Cantore took refuge on the balcony of a building, saying: “We came here to protect ourselves from the wave… and where we were earlier, it looks like there’s three or four feet of water. Waves crashed over the area earlier this morning.
He continues: “This is one of the worst hurricanes I have ever been in. This is perhaps the worst in terms of coverage of over 25 years and 90 storms.
“It looks like a North Atlantic Ocean storm here in Fort Myers,” the meteorologist said, watching the rising muddy waters and crashing waves closer and closer to the balcony. “The ocean, the river and the gulf took care of everything.”
The storm’s official landfall was at 3:05 p.m. ET on Cayo Costa, a barrier island outside of Fort Myers Bay. That’s according to the New York Times. The maximum wind speed of 155 mph puts the story just 2 mph below the 157 mph threshold for a cat. 5 storm.
Journalists covering Ian resorted to unusual headgear to stay safe in the gale.
Charles Peak was also in Fort Myers wearing what appeared to be a softball batting helmet while fellow Weather Channel member Stephanie Abrams wore a baseball helmet in Englewood, Florida. Both of these seem like smart solutions given Cantore’s experience.
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