Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday, slamming the western coast of Florida as a Category 4 storm and bringing torrential rain and damaging winds to the suburban areas between Tampa and Fort Myers.
The storm has the real potential to leave millions of people without electricity and will likely cause significant disruptions to broadcast television, radio, cable television, landline phone and Internet service as it crosses from the west coast of Florida toward the inland part of the state.
As of Wednesday afternoon, around 25,000 cable, Internet and landline phone customers were confirmed to be without power, and nearly one million residents and businesses are without electricity — numbers that are likely to grow in the coming hours and days as Hurricane Ian continues to impact the southeastern part of the country.
Streaming TV viewers have a number of options to stay on top of Hurricane Ian in the coming days as the storm continues to track through Florida and impacts nearby states, including many streaming channels that are widely available on phones, tablets and smart TVs for free.
Fox Weather (Free)
Fox Weather was made for covering Hurricane Ian: Even before the free, ad-supported streaming service debuted last year, the brand was busy hiring meteorologists, climate scientists, reporters, producers, editors and other staff to cover weather like no one else in the industry.
The channel has sent a team of reporters, photographers and field producers to Florida, scattering them across the state, with many utilizing the network’s Fox Weather Beast vehicles that contain weather instruments, reporting gear and other equipment that is simply unmatched by any other broadcaster.
Fox Weather has offered wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Ian since Tuesday, and has produced uninterrupted reports since the Category 4 storm made landfall Wednesday afternoon. The channel also launched a free YouTube stream that is available to viewers throughout the world.
LiveNow from Fox (Free)
Like Fox Weather, the LiveNow from Fox service has offered rolling coverage of Hurricane Ian since earlier this week. Drawing on the resources from Fox’s owned-and-operated TV stations in Florida and elsewhere, LiveNow from Fox provides hyperlocal coverage of the Category 4 storm straight from the source.
In addition to on-the-ground reports from local Fox stations, LiveNow from Fox is streaming press conferences with emergency officials in several counties impacted by the hurricane. It is also airing Fox Weather cameras stationed throughout the western portion of the state as the storm continues to bring dangerous wind and rain to various regions of Florida.
LiveNow from Fox is available to subscribers of YouTube TV from within that app.
The Weather Channel (Subscription required)
The Weather Channel brand is synonymous with live weather coverage. While the channel has pivoted its programming in recent years to offer more reality-based shows, the Weather Channel goes all-out during severe weather, offering rolling updates through a seasoned team of meteorologists, reporters and storm chasers.
For a long time, the Weather Channel was mostly exclusive to cable and satellite customers. The channel has slowly gained carriage on streaming services, but for the most part, the channel still requires a subscription of some kind.
The Weather Channel’s own TV apps offer a streaming version of the network for just $3 a month, but the stream is only available on a handful of streaming platforms, which means not everyone will be able to access it that way.
The good news is, Frndly TV offers the Weather Channel on a wide variety of phones, tablets and smart TV sets starting at just $7 a month. Frndly TV allows new customers to try out the service for seven days before they commit to a purchase.
Other subscription-based streaming services that carry the Weather Channel include YouTube TV ($65 a month), Fubo TV ($70 a month) and DirecTV Stream ($70 a month).
AccuWeather Now (Free)
AccuWeather’s team of meteorologists are providing live updates on Hurricane Ian with the same level of granular data available on its smartphone app and website.
AccuWeather Now is the weather forecaster’s free, ad-supported streaming service that launched last year on the Roku Channel, and has since been made more-broadly available on other free streaming platforms like Xumo and Amazon’s Freevee service.
AccuWeather Now content is also simulcast on the AccuWeather Channel, which is available on subscription-based streaming services like Philo ($25 a month) and DirecTV Stream ($70 a month).
WeatherNation was the first free streaming weather service, and it’s still going strong all these years later, with its fleet of climate scientists, meteorologists, forecasters and reporters covering Hurricane Ian around-the-clock. The service uses reports and predictive model forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s National Hurricane Center as well as other government and official agencies.
In addition to WeatherNation’s own team of meteorologists and reporters, the streaming service collects eyewitness videos and photos sent in to the channel by viewers across the country, including residents, first responders and others who are feeling the impacts of Hurricane Ian at this moment.
Available on: YouTube
WBBH-TV (Channel 2, NBC) and its sister-station WZVN (Channel 7, ABC) are providing live coverage from its Fort Myers, Florida studio via its own website and on a special, free-to-access YouTube channel.
The station’s studio is situated in the heart of the storm, with the suburban area around Fort Myers expected to see the most-significant impact from Hurricane Ian as it continues to cross through western Florida.
WBBH and WZVN are providing verified information from emergency officials throughout Fort Myers and Lee County to millions of television viewers across its broadcast area. The station is airing press conferences with local public safety agencies as they happen.