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As Hurricane Ian grows to Category 2, “Floridians up and down the Gulf Coast” are warned.

A wide area of hurricane and storm surge warnings were issued in Florida as Hurricane Ian plowed toward Cuba and Florida on Monday, and the first evacuations along the state’s west coast were prompted.

More evacuations are anticipated as Ian approaches Florida, said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who estimated that Ian was nearly 500 miles wide. According to the hurricane center, tropical-storm-force winds can be felt up to 115 miles from the center and hurricane-force winds can be felt up to 35 miles away.

DeSantis stated on Monday at the state Emergency Operations Centre that residents of Florida “up and down the Gulf Coast should experience the effects of this.” “At this moment, this hurricane is really, really large.”

According to the National Hurricane Centre, the storm was heading north-northwest at 13 mph as of 5 p.m. Monday, roughly 155 miles southeast of Cuba. It was a Category 2 storm because of its 100 mph maximum sustained winds.

As of 5:00 p.m. ET, Tampa Bay was under a hurricane warning. For a large portion of the southwest Florida coast, a storm surge warning was also in place.

For their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921, Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be among the most potential targets as of Monday.

According to AccuWeather, Ian was expected to rapidly strengthen into a major hurricane, Category 3 or greater, as soon as late Monday. The hurricane may eventually become a Category 4 storm, which would have sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph.

What’s Ian’s destination?

On Tuesday, Ian was predicted to appear over the southeast Gulf of Mexico, pass west of the Florida Keys later that day, and then hit Florida’s west coast on Wednesday or Thursday. The National Hurricane Centre issued a warning in an advisory stating that the storm is expected to weaken during this time.

The catastrophic impact can result from category 4 storms

According to the National Weather Service’s classification of Category 4 hurricanes, the storm may produce “catastrophic” damage and power disruptions might endure for weeks or months. According to the weather service, certain areas may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

DeSantis warned that even if you are not directly in the storm’s path, there would still be widespread effects across the state.

Storms may cause heavy rainfall to last all week

Up to the weekend, North Florida, the eastern Florida Panhandle, and parts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic are forecast to experience heavy rain. West-central Florida will get the highest rainfall, with much of the region receiving 8 to 10 inches. A 15-inch view was possible in some areas.

Given the already saturated antecedent conditions, “considerable flooding consequences are anticipated mid- to a late week in central Florida,” the weather agency advised. Through midweek, rainfall across the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula could cause flash floods and urban flooding.

Over northern Florida and parts of the Southeast towards the middle to end of the week, there may be minor flood impacts and rises on local streams and rivers.

The West coast of Florida may experience an unusual hurricane

The west coast of Florida, a frequently missed target, is in danger from the storm, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. According to U.S. statistics, Florida has been impacted by around 160 hurricanes overall, not counting tropical storms. On the west coast, north of the Florida Keys, only 17 have reached land.

According to AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell, the majority of storms normally go northeast or northwest rather than up the coast. Since records began to be kept in 1944, a storm has never completely tracked up Florida’s west coast. But he added that Ian “seems likely to take a unique road.”

Recent hurricanes that were headed for Florida were downgraded to tropical storms before making landfall, according to Ferrell. West of Tampa, Elsa made landfall in 2021, and Cedar Key, Eta, made landfall in 2020. But neither had the firepower to approach a Category 3 hurricane.

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