The National Hurricane Center has issued several new warnings as Hurricane Ian continues to strengthen and head towards Florida.
Ian is currently raging over the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 3 storm. However, it is gaining momentum on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, and forecasters expect it to reach Cat 4 by the time it hits Tampa and St. Petersburg early Wednesday morning (Sept. 28).
The NHC posted its newest batch of advisories early this evening and warned of possible life-threatening conditions.
“Here are the 5 pm Key Messages on Hurricane #Ian,” it wrote on Twitter. “Hurricane and Storm Surge Warnings have been issued for parts of the west coast of Florida. More info at http://hurricanes.gov. Local info for the US is available at http://weather.gov.”
In the updated forecast, the center warns of a possible “life-threatening storm surge” along Florida’s west coast. The areas most in danger are those between Fort Myers and Tampa Bay.
Ian will begin with tropical storm conditions on Tuesday night and strengthen into a hurricane in the early hours of Wednesday. And heavy rainfall may cause flooding in the southern, northern, and central parts of the state as well as the Florida Keys on Wednesday and Thursday.
Before hitting the United States, Hurricane Ian will pass over the western tip of Cuba and may bring a “life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, flash floods, and possible mudslides.”
Florida Officials Order 300,000 Evacuations Ahead of Hurricane Ian
As the Sunshine State prepares for the storm, Florida officials are ordering at least 300,000 residents in Hurricane Ian’s path to evacuate.
The mandatory evacuation orders affect those living in Hillsborough county, which covers a portion of Tampa. Officials in Sarasota county, which is to the immediate south of the city, told residents that evacuation orders will likely come on Tuesday.
“We did not make this decision easily,” Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said in a press conference.” But the storm poses a serious threat. And we must do everything we can to protect our residents.”
If the hurricane hits the city directly, it will be the first to do so in a century. And if Ian builds to Category 4, that means the state will experience sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph.
On Monday Morning, DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the entire state. And he also warned that roads out of Florida will become extremely congested. So he suggests that residents leave as soon as possible.
“Do not wait. Time is of the essence. Act now,” Wise pleaded.