Hurricane Ian is expected to rapidly develop before making landfall in Florida as a major storm.

On a course for the Gulf of Mexico and with Florida's west coast in its path, Hurricane Ian passed over the western edge of Cuba on Tuesday and was forecast to continue increasing.

Hurricane Ian is expected to rapidly develop before making landfall in Florida as a major storm.
A satellite picture supplied by the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Ian's eye churning into western Cuba at 2:26 a.m. Eastern on September 27, 2022. NOAA/NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday in low-lying regions surrounding Tampa Bay, and officials advised others in the vicinity to leave voluntarily, recognizing that moving hundreds of thousands of people out of Ian's path might take some time.

The Category 2 hurricane was expected to strengthen to a Category 4 storm with maximum winds of 140 mph before making landfall in Florida as early as Wednesday. Tampa and St. Petersburg seemed to be prime targets for their first direct strike by a big storm in a century. Even if Ian does not directly impact the area, the consequences of the storm might be felt, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"You're still looking at a considerable amount of rain, a lot of wind, a lot of storm surge, and so, yeah, follow that track, but don't assume because that eye may or may not be in your region that you're not going to see effects," DeSantis said at a news conference on Monday afternoon. "There will be tremendous consequences."

The governor said that tolls in the Tampa Bay region had been halted, and that the state had recruited 5,000 National Guard personnel, with another 2,000 on standby in neighboring states. According to DeSantis, more than 27,000 power restoration employees were placed on standby to assist following the hurricane.

"Take this storm seriously, please. It is authentic. It's not a practice, "Director of Hillsborough County Emergency Management Timothy Dudley discussed storm preparations in Tampa, where some mandatory evacuations were ordered, during a news conference on Monday.

Administrator Bonnie Wise stated during a press conference that up to 300,000 people may need to be evacuated from low-lying regions in Hillsborough County alone. Shelters were set up in buildings like schools and other places.

Officials issued evacuation orders for Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, and they go into effect Monday night. No one would be compelled to leave, according to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, but they would stay at their own risk.

"It indicates that we won't be coming to assist you. You are responsible for it if you don't "said Gualtieri. "For all intents and purposes, leave. right now. Everyone must leave."

The MacDill Air Force Base, as well as well-known communities including some of Hyde Park, Davis Islands, and Ybor City, are all included in the evacuation zone, which runs the whole length of Tampa Bay and the rivers that feed it.

According to the National Hurricane Center, as of 2 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday morning, Ian was heading north-northwest at 13 mph and was just about 50 miles south of Cuba's southern coasts. Its highest sustained winds have risen to 110 miles per hour.

According to official media, authorities in Cuba were evacuating 50,000 people in Pinar del Rio province, dispatching medical and emergency professionals, and taking precautions to safeguard food and other crops stored in warehouses.

"Cuba is anticipating strong hurricane-force winds, as well as life-threatening storm surge and torrential rainfall," senior expert Daniel Brown of the United States National Hurricane Center told The Associated Press.

The hurricane center forecast that storm surge over Cuba's western coast may reach 14 feet Monday night or early Tuesday.

Hurricane Ian is expected to rapidly develop before making landfall in Florida as a major storm.
On September 26, 2022, a man assists with the removal of small boats from Havana Bay in Havana, Cuba, as western Cuba was predicted to take the brunt of Hurricane Ian. YAMIL LAGE/AFP/GETTY

In Havana, fishermen were removing their boats from the water along the iconic Malecon, the beachside boardwalk, while municipal workers were unclogging storm drains in preparation for the anticipated rain.

Residents in Havana's El Fanguito, a poor neighborhood along the Almendares River, were packing up what they could before fleeing their houses, many of which had been damaged by earlier storms.

"I'm hoping we can avoid this one because it will be the last of us. We have so little already "Abel Rodrigues, a 54-year-old health professional, stated.

A storm surge of up to 10 feet of ocean water and 10 inches of rain in the Tampa Bay area, with up to 15 inches in isolated spots. That much water is enough to inundate low-lying coastal settlements. Residents in Florida were preparing, waiting up for hours in Tampa to get sandbags and emptying shop shelves of bottled water.

Hurricane Ian is expected to rapidly develop before making landfall in Florida as a major storm.
This chart illustrates the anticipated storm surge inundation values as of 11 p.m. Eastern on September 26, 2022, reflecting the maximum height the water might reach above typically dry ground anywhere within the given locations when Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida. NOAA/NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

Long lines for petrol, crowded food shops, and empty shelves were the result of nervous expectation, CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca reports from Clearwater, Florida.

"We're going to get these sandbags in front of the garage, the garage door, the front door... and pray we're okay," Gabriel Alley, a Clearwater resident who migrated from California, told CBS News.

Ian's approaching arrival also caused NASA to remove its Artemis 1 rocket from its launch pad and relocate it to the safety of the agency's Vehicle Assembly Building, thereby destroying any hope of conducting the unmanned moonshot before November.

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