Category 4 Hurricane Ian barrels towards Florida after ravaging Cuba

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By Euronews  with AP
Tree limbs and palm fronds, knocked down from wind produced by the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, litter a parking lot of a shopping center.
Tree limbs and palm fronds, knocked down from wind produced by the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, litter a parking lot of a shopping center.   -   Copyright  Wilfredo Lee/AP

Heavy rains battered Florida's west coast as Hurricane Ian, a powerful Category 4 storm, is barreling towards the US this Wednesday. 

Meteorologists are warning of life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic floods in the hours to come.

Hurricane Ian is forecast to make landfall on Florida's western coast late on Wednesday, maybe even as a Category 5 according to Ron DeSantis, Florida's Republican governor.

"Potentially, it could make landfall as a Category 5. But clearly, this is a very powerful hurricane that's going to have major impacts... So, this is going to be a nasty, nasty day, two days," he said during a press conference on Wednesday. 

The storm packs winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, just shy of Category 5 strength. And its eyewall is starting to move onshore.

Hurricane Ian already pummeled Cuba, leaving at least two people dead and causing serious damage to infrastructure.

The whole island lost access to electricity, leaving 11 million people in the dark. Cuban authorities said they had begun restoring power in certain parts of the country.