Ian Just Shy Of A Category 5 Hurricane As It Nears Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ian has rapidly intensified off Florida’s coast, gaining top winds of 155 mph, just shy of the most devastating Category 5 hurricane status.

Ian is pushing a storm surge that could cause catastrophic damage along the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast from Bonita Beach to the Tampa Bay region.

Forecasters say the stretch from Naples to Sarasota is at highest risk. At least 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

Winds and rain have begun intensifying, a day after Ian battered the western tip of Cuba, leaving the entire island without electricity.