Hurricane Ian is gathering strength as it approaches Cuba on its way to Florida, promising to be the strongest hurricane to slam Tampa in almost a century. Ian's winds increased to 100 miles (161 kilometers) per hour as it churned in the Caribbean approximately 155 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, according to a 5 p.m. New York time alert from the US National Hurricane Center.
As Hurricane Ian comes over George Town on Grand Cayman Island, a lady photographs photos as waves crash against a seawall. Photo: AP via Hindustan Times
The day began at 75 mph. Along Florida's west coast, including Tampa Bay, a hurricane watch and storm surge warning is in place. Over 300,000 people are likely to flee.
In his study, Brad Reinhart, a hurricane specialist at the center, stated, "This is a life-threatening situation." "Follow evacuation and other directions from local authority as soon as possible."
Tropical storm conditions may arrive in Florida late Tuesday, with hurricane conditions coming Wednesday morning, potentially causing catastrophic river flooding over the state's central regions.
Ryan Truchelut, president of WeatherTiger, wrote in an email that Hurricane Ian was "quickly becoming the powerful storm it was long forecast to be over the scorching seas of the western Caribbean." "Due to Ian's shallow angle of approach to Florida's Gulf Coast, the range of possible landfall scenarios is still large, but it is becoming increasingly likely that the state will experience extensive surge, wave, and rain impacts regardless of the particular outcome."
The hurricane center predicts that Ian's core will cross western Cuba, where the storm surge may cause sea levels to rise up to 14 feet (4 meters) above average. In some areas of Cuba, rains might cause mudslides and flash floods.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel warned his country on Monday that it was in for a "difficult week." Hurricane warnings have been issued for seven western provinces, including Havana.
Ian will travel along the west coast of Florida, dragging its most powerful side along the way before reaching landfall towards the end of the week.
"It's going to be a really hazardous storm," said AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker.
Ian's winds are expected to reach 140 mph late Tuesday through Wednesday before decreasing to 120 mph on Thursday, according to the center. In 36 to 48 hours, the storm will face wind shear, which will prevent it from strengthening further.
Nonetheless, Hurricane Ian might be the worst hurricane to hit Tampa in 101 years, according to Chuck Watson, an Enki Research disaster modeler. The Tampa-St. Petersburg region has had several near calls in recent years, but the most recent destructive hit was a 1921 hurricane that would have cost $30 billion today.
On its present path, Ian may deliver tropical-storm-force gusts over more than half of the state's orange-growing land, according to Watson.
Storm surges of 5 to 10 feet are expected in Tampa Bay and along the area's shoreline, according to preliminary forecasts.
Fertilizer and fuel
According to Eliot Vancil, owner of Fuel Logic, a distributor in Florida, demand for diesel for generators has increased by more than tenfold. Requests are flooding in from nursing homes, grocery shops, hospitals, and the like, with a strong concentration in Tampa, he stated over the phone. There is no lack of gasoline in the state right now, he says, but "there is a limitation of time to get it done" before the storm.
Mosaic Co., a fertilizer company, said it is concluding storm preparations at its phosphate mining and manufacturing operations in Florida and Louisiana. Employees at the company's headquarters in downtown Tampa and other Florida locales work from home.
Ian is predicted to skip much of the Gulf of Mexico's energy infrastructure, however Chevron Corp. and BP Plc said they had closed several offshore oil production facilities in the region and evacuated staff ahead of the storm.
Ian is expected to be a Category 4 hurricane near the coast of Hillsborough County, which contains Tampa, with a storm surge of 15 feet, according to Tim Dudley, county emergency management director, in a YouTube video. Mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders have been issued, and the county is opening shelters, said to Bonnie Wise, the county administrator, in a YouTube video. According to her, the county plans to evacuate more than 300,000 people.
Tampa Electric announced Monday that it may cut power to a portion of downtown Tampa early Wednesday in order to prevent significant damage to its infrastructure from a predicted seawater storm surge.
On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed an emergency declaration for Florida, releasing federal disaster help to the state. He also canceled a trip to Florida slated on Tuesday, which included a Democratic National Committee gathering in Orlando. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed a state of emergency and advised citizens to prepare.
Following Storm Fiona, Ian is the second catastrophic hurricane to smash over the Atlantic in less than a week. Fiona made landfall in Atlantic Canada over the weekend, inflicting widespread damage, power outages, and flooding in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. According to Enki Research's Watson, the region's damages are expected to be $3.5 billion, while secondary effects like rain may drive expenses past $4.5 billion.