Tropical Storm Ian strengthened into a hurricane on Monday, September 26th, while racing across the Caribbean toward Cuba and threatening a big hit to Florida’s west coast later in the week.
At 5 a.m. EDT on Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph, about 90 miles southwest of Grand Cayman, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly and become a major hurricane as soon as late Monday.
As Ian approaches Florida, Accuweather said the storm could reach Category 4, which means sustained winds between 130 mph and 156 mph.
“In just a few days, Ian is likely to be a dangerous, major hurricane,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged residents to load up on food, water, medicine, batteries, and fuel. He said it was too soon to determine when or if Ian will make landfall, but evacuations may be ordered in the coming days.
“Expect heavy rains, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surge, and even isolated tornadoes. Make preparations now,” he said Sunday. “Anticipate power outages. That is something that is likely to happen with a hurricane of this magnitude.”
The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for the lower Florida Keys Sunday.
“Significant” wind and storm surge damage was expected across a wide swath of the Atlantic Basin, and the Cuban government upgraded the hurricane watch to a warning.
According to the National Weather Service description, such storms can cause “catastrophic” damage, with power outages that can last weeks or possibly months. Areas can be uninhabitable for weeks or months, the weather service says.
“Even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state,” DeSantis said.