SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — A timelapse showed a storm surge hit Sanibel, Florida, on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian came ashore.
A traffic camera captured the video of high winds and floodwaters completely submerging an intersection on the island, WFLA reports. The timelapse shows Periwinkle Way and Casa Ybel Road in Sanibel. Twitter user @BirdingPeepWx said the camera recorded conditions deteriorating over a period of 30 minutes, from noon to 12:30 p.m.
Another Twitter user shared this video of the storm surge impacting Marco Island.
Storm surges are often considered the greatest threat to life and property during hurricanes, according to the National Hurricane Center. Of the roughly 1,500 people who died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the NHC says many lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of storm surge.
The NHC explains that storm surges are “an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides.” They can cause extreme flooding, like that seen in Naples where cars were submerged and a child was reportedly almost swept away.
Surges form as winds from the storm push water toward the land, causing it to pile up. Because of their complexity, the NHC says even the slightest changes in the storm – whether it be intensity, speed, size, central pressure, or approach to the coast, or the shape and features of the coast – can alter a storm surge.
Hurricane Ian made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane near Cayo Costa, bringing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. It’s one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., swamping city streets with water and smashing trees along Florida’s western coast.
The Associated Press and Storyful contributed to this report.