RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A catastrophic storm, Hurricane Ian is expected to hit land near Venice, Florida around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at a level that is expected to have devastating ramifications.

As of 8 a.m., Ian was clocked having wind speeds of 155 miles per hour, just two miles from Category 5 strength. The storm was crawling along the northeast at ten miles per hour. According to the National Hurricane Center, “widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flooding is expected” across central Florida as the storm makes its way across the landscape.

Effects seen across the impacted area will vary based on region, but the coastal area from Punta Gorda down to Bonita Bay, including Sanibel Island, has the possibility to see a tremendous storm surge of 12 to 18 feet.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides.” As pictured below, storm surge is not the same as storm tide, which is the amount of water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and normal tide cadence.

One of the hurricanes with the most notable storm surge was Hurricane Ike, in 2008. According to NOAA, the devastating Cape Verde hurricane saw storm surges of 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels in the Galveston Texas region and reached max wind speeds of 145 miles per hour — 10 miles per hour less than Ian, which is still expected to gain momentum. Ike was responsible for the death of more than 100 people and was estimated to have caused $19.3 billion in damages.

Storm Surge vs. Storm Tide (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

A large portion of Florida is expected to see as much as two feet of rain, with some areas seeing even more, which will cause widespread flooding.

Once Ian moves over land, it will begin to weaken considerably, leveling back down to being considered a tropical storm.

Once Ian moves across Florida, the storm will crawl up the East Coast, weakening as it makes its way to Virginia. The effects of the storm are expected to be seen in the form of varying levels of rainfall throughout Central Virginia.

The most up-to-date Central Virginia forecast by our 8News Meteorologists can be found here.