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How to track Hurricane Ian and when should I put up hurricane shutters?

A category four storm smashed into the east coast of Florida on Wednesday, sparking flash floods and causing widespread power outages.

Update:
How to track Hurricane Ian
SHANNON STAPLETONREUTERS

Forecasters warned of “catastrophic” damage as Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday, becoming one of the most powerful storms to ever strike Florida. The hurricane has clocked wind speeds of up to 150mph and has already sparked a 12-foot storm surge.

Local authorities are advising residents on the recommended procedures in their specific area, but the situation is extremely fluid. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has produced a live map of Hurricane Ian, giving both current information and the forecasted movement for the next few days.

The graphic available on the NHC website shows the path of the storm but does not show the size. The hurricane’s effects can be felt miles away from the storm itself and damage to infrastructure can incapacitate whole states.

By altering the information on the NHC map you can see information relating to the storm surge warning, flash flooding potential, wind speed probabilities, and a wide range of other important metrics. However it is important to note that local officials and hurricane experts are best placed to judge the situation and you should always follow their guidance, above your own interpretation of the data.

When should I put up the hurricane shutters?

Earlier this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that it was expecting an above-average year of hurricane activity, but the first two months of hurricane season recorded only three named storms.

However that quiet start appears to have been misleading and the eastern cost is braced for a prolonged storm. Hurricane Ian first came ashore on Wednesday but it is expected to continue up the coast in the coming days.

The National Hurricane Center advises that residents put up their storm shutters whenever a hurricane watch alert is issued for the area. Typically, these warnings are given around two days ahead of a storm, meaning that residents should have 48 hours to fortify their homes and ensure that their emergency kit is gathered.

The process will vary slightly for different people, depending on the type of shutters they have and the size and accessibilities of windows on their house.

In particularly storm-prone areas, windows are fitted with quick-draw shutters that can be assembled in a matter of minutes. However others may use the large aluminium slats which must be screwed onto a frame, potentially needing help from a neighbour or friend to do so.

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