A tropical storm with potentially catastrophic force is currently moving toward Cuba and western Florida. Evacuations have started. / Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian is gaining strength and heading for Cuba and the US state of Florida. The hurricane reached a Category 2 out of 5 strength on Monday evening (local time), according to the US Hurricane Center. The hurricane center’s forecast for Ian “shows an unprecedented rate of strengthening from a tropical storm to a powerful hurricane,” said meteorologist Brandon Miller the news medium CNN. About 20,000 people have been evacuated in western Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province.
“The storm surge this evening and early Tuesday could raise water levels along the coast of western Cuba by up to 9 to 14 feet above normal tide levels in areas with onshore winds in the hurricane warning area,” CNN quoted a US hurricane center as saying.
“Life-threatening storm surges, hurricanes, flash floods and possible landslides” are expected in Cuba by Tuesday. The hurricane may then move further towards the west coast of Florida with a magnitude of 4. Meteorologists there warn of storm surges from Wednesday – the risk is greatest between the cities of Fort Myers and Tampa. Hurricane force winds are expected from late Tuesday evening (local time).
If the hurricane hits Tampa, Florida, it would be the first time for the city in 100 years. On Florida’s west coast, residents are being asked to leave their homes. “This is not something to be trifled with. If you can go, just go now,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Monday. You can replace personal things, but not your own life.
Hurricane Ian: Light floods in Cuba
On Monday evening (local time) there were already gusts of wind and light flooding in coastal areas of the island of Isla de la Juventud and the western province of Pinar del Río in Cuba, as reported by the state media. According to the Communist Party newspaper “Granma”, the evacuation of around 50,000 people has started in Pinar del Río. According to a report by the Cubadebate portal, there were power outages on the southern Isla de la Juventud.
The governor of the southeastern US state, Ron DeSantis, had already declared a state of emergency at the weekend as a precaution and called on the population to take precautions. Floods are expected, he said on Monday. Several thousand National Guard soldiers were mobilized. He hopes his state won’t be hit too hard. However, people should expect power outages – these could last for several days. “Safety is paramount,” warned DeSantis.
Hurricane Ian hits Cuba before heading to Florida
Hurricane Ian battered the far west of Cuba, where authorities had evacuated 50,000 people, on Tuesday with wind and rain on a path that will see it hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 cyclone by Wednesday.
The authorities set up 55 shelters in the province of Pinar del Río, sent medical and emergency personnel and took measures to protect food and other crops in warehouses in the tobacco region, according to state media. The storm was also expected to hit the territories of Artemisa and Mayabeque.
Meteorologists in Cuba expected the meteor to make landfall on the big island at some point between Playa Galafre and La Coloma, after brushing against Playa de la Juventud early Tuesday morning.
Ian is forecast to hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane and then reach a Category 4 with top winds of up to 140 miles per hour (225 kilometers per hour) over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall in Florida.
“Extreme hurricane-force winds are expected for Cuba, as well as dangerous storm surges and heavy rains,” Daniel Brown, a meteorologist with the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), told The Associated Press on Monday.
The NHC forecast that areas of Cuba’s west coast could see storm surges of up to 4.3 meters (14 feet) late Monday or early Tuesday.
In Havana, fishermen were pulling their boats out of the water along its iconic boardwalk, while municipal employees were busy cleaning the drains in anticipation of heavy rains.
Adyz Ladrón, a 35-year-old Havana resident, expressed concern about the possibility of rising water levels.
“Scared because the house is completely flooded, the water is high,” she said, as she placed her hand at chest level.
As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 km/h), and was located approximately 85 miles (136 kilometers) southeast of the western tip of Cuba. It had maximum sustained winds of about 177 km/h (110 mph).
The National Hurricane Center said “significant wind and storm surge impacts” were expected in western Cuba on Tuesday morning.
Ian won’t spend much time over Cuba, but will slow down over the Gulf of Mexico, where it will increase in size and strength, “which will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts along the west coast of Florida.” ”, noted the NHC.
Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared likely to have their first direct hit from a Category 3 or larger hurricane since 1921.
“Please take this storm seriously. It is something serious. It’s not a rehearsal,” Hillsborough County emergency management director Timothy Dudley said Monday during a press conference on storm preparations in Tampa.
A storm surge of up to 10 feet (3 meters) and up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain is forecast throughout the Tampa Bay area, with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas. That’s enough water to flood low-lying coastal communities.
As many as 300,000 people could be evacuated from low-lying Hillsborough County alone, County Manager Bonnie Wise said. As of Monday afternoon, some evacuations were already beginning in the most vulnerable parts, and some schools and other places set up shelters.
“We must do everything we can to protect our residents. Time is of the essence,” Wise stated.
In Tampa, residents lined up for hours to collect sandbags and bought all the bottled water on the shelves. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a statewide emergency and warned that the storm could impact a large swath of the state, disrupting electricity and gasoline supplies.
“You have a significant storm that could end up being a Category 4 hurricane,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “That will cause a major storm surge. There will be floods. We are going to feel a wide variety of impacts.”
DeSantis said the state has suspended toll collection around Tampa and mobilized 5,000 Florida National Guard troops, while another 2,000 will be on standby in neighboring states.
President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property.
Taking no chances, NASA planned to remove its rocket for a lunar mission from the launch pad and move it to a hangar at the Kennedy Space Center, delaying a scheduled test flight by several weeks.