Tropical storm and storm surge warnings were issued late Sunday for part of the Florida coast as a possible Hurricane Ian was headed for the state.
Ian was a tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph at 11 p.m. ET, but it “continues to get stronger” and is forecast to become a hurricane Monday, the National Hurricane Center said:.
The storm is expected to become a hurricane early Monday and a major hurricane Tuesday, meaning a Category 3 storm or stronger, it said.
It could approach Florida’s southwest and west coasts on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the weather bureau.
At the end of Sunday, a tropical storm watch was issued for part of the Florida coast, including Fort Myers. Storm surge watches were also issued.
“Ian will become a large and powerful hurricane in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, spreading its impact across much of the Florida peninsula,” Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center, said at a briefing earlier Sunday.
Before that, it will pass past the Cayman Islands on Monday and near or over western Cuba Monday evening and Tuesday, when it is likely to cause “significant wind and storm surge effects,” the Hurricane Center said.
At 11 p.m. ET Sunday, the storm’s center was about 140 miles south of Grand Cayman, and it was moving northwest at 21 mph, the hurricane center said.
The Florida National Guard activated 2,500 troops and began rallying along the coast on Sunday, the governor’s office said. Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the state and President Joe Biden has approved a declaration of emergency authorizing federal aid.
“Get ready now,” DeSantis said on Sunday. He said residents should anticipate power outages and fuel outages.
Tropical storm warnings covered the Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge west to Key West, including Dry Tortugas, the Hurricane Center said.
A tropical storm watchman covered Florida’s west coast from Englewood to Chokoloskee. Storm surge watches covered Florida from Englewood to the Card Sound Bridge, as well as the Florida Keys.
In Grand Cayman, tropical gale force winds were expected to hit the island at 4 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET), the government there said:. Residents were asked to stop driving on the roads from Sunday evening in anticipation of deteriorating conditions.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Artemisa, the US National Hurricane Center said.
Tropical storm warnings covered the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas, and Little Cayman and Cayman Brac were under tropical storm surveillance.
Floridians were urged not to focus solely on the trail of the storm’s center. The entire west coast of Florida is vulnerable to storm surge, said Rhome of the National Hurricane Center.
“I’m telling you, it doesn’t take land or a direct hit from a hurricane to pile up the water,” he said.
Jamaica could see a total of 8 inches of rain, the US agency said. The Cayman Islands were expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 8 inches in some areas, and western Cuba could get 6 to 10 inches, and up to 16 inches in some areas, it said.