HOUSTON (KIAH) — Hurricane Ian significantly strengthened Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 155 mph, making it a high-end category 4 hurricane. Category 5, the highest on the scale, begins at 156 mph.

Hurricane Ian Wednesday 6 a.m. update

The National Hurricane Center forecast track calls for 155 mph winds upon landfall, which looks likely to occur between Sarasota and Fort Myers. The storm surge forecast has increased to 12 to 16 feet between Englewood and Bonita Beach, including Port Charlotte and areas near Fort Myers.

Hurricane Ian forecast track

Ian is likely to be a tropical storm as it emerges off the East Coast of Florida, eventually arriving along the Georgia or South Carolina Coast.

Forecast rain totals through the next 7 days

The heaviest rain, potentially up to 24″, will occur in Florida. In the days to follow, widespread heavy rain spreads northward along the East Coast, including North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.