it intensified into a massive hurricane that sustained winds of around 125mph on Tuesday morning, just before hitting western Cuba. The powerful Category 3 storm was expected to worsen as it flew over the island on a route into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, with the west coast of Florida on its way later this week.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered on Monday in the low-lying areas surrounding Tampa Bay, and officials asked others in the area to voluntarily evacuate, knowing it could take some time to get hundreds of thousands of people out of the way.
The Cuban National Meteorology Institute and then the US National Hurricane Center reported that the storm had landed early on Tuesday morning.
“Ian is already over Cuban territory,” said the institute’s meteorologist on a special broadcast on Cuban state television. “The outer wall of the storm is on the coast of Pinar del Rio.”
Ian was predicted to become an even stronger Category 4 storm, with a wind force of 140mph before hitting Florida as early as Wednesday. Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be among the most likely targets for the first direct impact in a century by a major hurricane. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned that even if Ian didn’t hit the area directly, he could still feel the effects of the storm.
“You are still looking at a really significant amount of rain, you are looking at a lot of wind, you are looking at a large storm surge, so yeah, follow that trail but don’t think because this eye may or may not be in your neighborhood where it does not.” you’ll see the results, ”DeSantis said during Monday’s afternoon press conference. “You’ll notice significant effects.”
The governor said the state had suspended tolls in the Tampa Bay area and mobilized 5,000. soldiers of the National Guard, and another 2 thousand. on standby in neighboring states. More than 27,000 power recovery workers have been put on standby to help after the storm, DeSantis said.
“Please take this storm seriously. This is the real deal. This is not an exercise, “Hillsborough County Director of Crisis Management Timothy Dudley said at Monday’s press conference on storm preparation in Tampa, where some compulsory evacuations were ordered.
As many as 300,000 people could be evacuated from low-lying areas in Hillsborough alone, administrator Bonnie Wise told a press conference. Schools and other locations were opened as shelters.
In the Pinellas district, including St.Petersburg, officials were issued evacuation orders which will take effect on Monday evening. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said no one would be forced to leave, but they would remain at their own risk.
“It means we are not coming to help you. If you don’t, you’ll be on your own, ”said Gualtieri. – For practical reasons, get out. Immediately. Everyone has to go.
The evacuation zone is along Tampa Bay and the rivers that feed it, embracing it MacDill Air Force Base and well-known neighborhoods such as parts of Hyde Park, Davis Islands and Ybor City.
From 8 a.m. EST On Tuesday morning, Ian was moving north at 12 mph and was only about 10 miles northeast of the city of Pinar del Rio in western Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its maximum steady winds increased to 125mph.
Authorities in Cuba evacuated some 50,000 people in the Pinar del Rio province on Monday. According to state media, they dispatched medical and emergency personnel and took steps to protect food and other crops in storage.
“Cuba expects extreme hurricane-force winds, as well as life-threatening storm waves and heavy rainfall,” US National Hurricane Center senior specialist Daniel Brown told the Associated Press.
The hurricane center predicted that areas of Cuba’s west coast could see up to a 14-foot storm wave on Monday evening or early Tuesday.
In Havana, fishermen hauled boats out of the water along the famous Malecon, a seafront promenade, and city workers unblocked storm sewers before expected rain.
In El Fanguito in Havana, a poor neighborhood near the Almendares River, residents packed what they could to leave their homes, many of which show damage from previous storms.
“I hope we get away from it because that would be the end for us. We already have so little, said 54-year-old health worker Abel Rodrigues.
There was a storm surge in the Tampa Bay area of up to 10 feet of ocean water and 10 inches of rain, and as much as 15 inches in isolated areas. That’s enough water to flood low-lying coastal communities. Florida residents stood in line for hours in Tampa to collect sandbags and clean the shelves of bottled water.
Nervous anticipation has led to long lines for gas, packed grocery stores and empty shelves, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca of Clearwater, Florida.
“We’ll take those sandbags in front of the garage, garage door, front door … and pray we’re good,” Gabriel Alley, who moved to Clearwater from California, told CBS News.
The impending arrival of Ian also prompted NASA to delay itsfrom the launch pad and back to the agency’s vehicle assembly building security, which will likely end all chances of an unmanned moonlight firing before November.
“Many people on the Florida peninsula and West Florida are at risk and need to be ready to act quickly,” said Rick Knabb, hurricane specialist at The Weather Channel, “and the slowdown we expect from Ian means we can have wind. , storm waves and floods caused by rain ”.
DeSantis has declared a state of emergency across Florida and urged residents to prepare for a storm that is striking large swaths of the state with heavy rains, strong winds, and a rising sea.
“We will continue to monitor the trace of this storm. But it’s really important to highlight the degree of uncertainty that still exists, “DeSantis said at Sunday’s news conference, warning that” even if you are not necessarily right on the eye of the storm path, there will be quite a broad impact statewide.
Flash and urban floods are possible in the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula by mid-week, and then this week was possible heavy rainfall in northern Florida, West Florida and the southeastern United States.
The Hurricane Center has instructed the Floridians to prepare hurricane plans and monitor updates to the storm’s evolutionary path.
President Biden also declared a state of emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief and help protect life and property. The president has postponed Tuesday’s scheduled trip to Florida due to a storm.
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