Friends Felicia Livengood, 29, and Victoria Colson, 31, fill sandbags along with hundreds of other Tampa, Florida, residents that waited for over two hours Sunday to fill their 10 free sandbags. (Luis Santana, Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022, 6:51 a.m. | AL.com
Hurricane Ian is on track to hit Florida’s west coast later this week, as Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the entire state.
As of Monday morning, Ian was about 90 miles southwest of Grand Cayman and moving northwest at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Currently a Category 1 storm, it is expected to intensify and become a major hurricane as soon as late Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Both Cuba and Grand Cayman are under hurricane warnings.
It could reach Category 4 status – meaning it has winds between 130 and 156 mph – as it approaches Florida. Ian is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding along its path and could create life-threatening storm surges in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the west coast of Florida and the Florida panhandle by mid-week.
Tropical storm and hurricane watches have been issued for a portion of the west coast of Florida and additional watches may be required later today, NHC said. Tropical storm form wins could arrive in the Keys as early as Tuesday at 7 a.m. before the storm tracks its way to the northeast.
Ian’s latest track
State of emergency
DeSantis initially declared a state of emergency for about two dozen counties on Friday but expanded that Saturday to include the entire state as Ian gained strength and tracked towards the state.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”
Florida’s National Guard has been activated to prepare for the storm.
President Joe Biden also declared an emergency for the state and postponed a scheduled Sept. 27 trip to the state due to the storm.
DeSantis said evacuations could be ordered as the storm approaches. You can check disaster zones for evacuations here.
The University of Tampa and the University of South Florida have stopped classes and other public schools, particularly in the Tampa area, are closed. Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach announced a mandatory campus evacuation Monday.
TWEET: The path of Tropical Storm Ian remains uncertain and could have impacts from the Keys to Northwest Florida. Floridians along the Gulf Coast should prepare now for the possibility of severe weather next week. Follow @FLSERT for the most up-to-date information about the storm. (From Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis @GovRonDeSantis)
What do you need in a hurricane disaster kit?
Medications, flashlights, a weather radio, a first aid kit, and more are needed in an emergency kit. You can see more on what to pack here.