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Tropical Storm Ian forecast to "rapidly strengthen," could hit Florida as major hurricane

Tropical Storm Ian is expected to “rapidly strengthen” this weekend and could hit Florida early next week as a major hurricane, according to forecasters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Tropical Storm Ian is moving across the central Caribbean Sea Saturday. By late morning, it was located 270 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving west at 15 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph — and is expected to become a hurricane on Sunday.

“Early next week, Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall,” the National Hurricane Center said.  

“Significant strengthening is forecast during the next few days,” it said.

On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order issuing a state of emergency for 24 Florida counties that could be in the storm’s path. On Saturday, the state of emergency was expanded to cover the entire state. 

The storm, forecast to make landfall along Florida’s West coast, poses risk of “dangerous storm surge, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, strong winds, hazardous seas, and isolated tornadic activity for Florida’s Peninsula and portions of the Florida Big Bend, North Florida, and Northeast Florida,” DeSantis said in an executive order Saturday.

He encouraged all Floridians “to make their preparations.”

On Saturday, a hurricane watch was is in effect for the Cayman Islands and a tropical storm watch was in effect for Jamaica.

“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is forecast to move across the central Caribbean Sea today, pass southwest of Jamaica on Sunday, and pass near or over the Cayman Islands Sunday night and early Monday. Ian will then approach western Cuba late Monday and emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday,” said the National Hurricane Center. 


Source: CBS Minnesota

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