Strengthening Hurricane Ian takes aim at Florida
Hurricane Ian will bring a strong storm surge and sustained winds of 140 mph as it approaches Florida’s Gulf Coast in the middle of this week, the National Hurricane Center said Monday.
Ian strengthened to a major Category 3 hurricane at 5 a.m. Tuesday, forecasters said, as it hit western Cuba with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. Authorities in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province set up dozens of shelters and took measures to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. The National Hurricane Center said the island’s west coast could see a storm surge of 14 feet (4.3 meters).
As it battered Cuba, Ian’s storm surge could “raise water levels 9 to 14 feet above normal high tide” in some areas, the hurricane center said. The surge in Florida is predicted to be slightly less severe, but parts of Tampa Bay could still see water 5 to 10 feet higher than normal.
Ion was about 5 miles west of the Cuban city of Pinar del Rio, moving northwest at 12 mph, the NHC said in its 5 p.m. advisory. “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane-force winds, deadly storm surge, and heavy rainfall,” Daniel Brown, a senior specialist at the hurricane center, told The Associated Press.
Over the next 48 hours, the storm is expected to change course toward the north and northeast and the timing of those movements will determine where it makes landfall on the U.S. mainland.
Dangerous storm conditions are imminent. In effect to western Cuba. U.S. In, approximately 100 miles of the Florida coast is under a hurricane watch, from Englewood north to the Anclote River, including Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. A hurricane watch is usually issued 48 hours before the arrival of hurricane conditions.
Ian is the fourth Atlantic hurricane of 2022, which only saw its first hurricane earlier this month. So far, predictions of above-average activity for the 2022 hurricane season have not materialized. This scenario is explained by fluctuations in the jet stream and heat waves in northern latitudes.
But Ian’s threatening approach is a cautionary reminder that storm experts often invoke: A single bad storm is enough to upend people’s lives.
Both President Biden and Governor Ron DeSantis have declared states of emergency in Florida, paving the way for federal and state agencies to coordinate their planning and response.
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