Hurricane Ian strengthens to 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm, to make Florida landfall Wednesday

Hurricane Ian has maximum sustained winds near 140 mph

Hurricane Ian strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm early Wednesday morning. 

In a 5 a.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center said that the center of Hurricane Ian was located about 125 kilometers west-southwest of Naples, Florida.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

The center of the hurricane is projected to approach the western coast of the Sunshine State and move onshore later in the day.

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This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12:41 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico.

This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12:41 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA via AP)

The agency warned that it was expected to cause life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula.

Hurricane Ian strengthens into a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Ian strengthens into a Category 4 storm (Credit: Fox Weather)

Some fluctuations in intensity are possible, the center noted, before Ian reaches the coast and weakening is expected after landfall.

A dog is walked through floodwater as the tide rise, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Key West, Fla., as the first bands of rain associated with Hurricane Ian pass to the west of the island chain.

A dog is walked through floodwater as the tide rise, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Key West, Fla., as the first bands of rain associated with Hurricane Ian pass to the west of the island chain. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)

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Ian was moving toward the north-northeast near 10 mph, with a reduction in speed forecast on Wednesday before turning north on Thursday.

People ride along the bayfront as an outer band of Hurricane Ian approaches and kicks up the surf at Vinoy Park, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

People ride along the bayfront as an outer band of Hurricane Ian approaches and kicks up the surf at Vinoy Park, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

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On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, the center will move over central Florida, before it emerges over the western Atlantic by late Thursday.