Ian is officially a hurricane. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued an advisory warning that it is expecting “conditions in western Cuba to deteriorate this evening and tonight with significant wind and storm surge impacts expected.”
The path predicted by the NHC indicates that Ian will make landfall on the western coast of Cuba at 2am this Tuesday, then continue on a course towards northwestern Florida, where it will hit hard mainly between Thursday and Friday. The tropical storm is expected to dump heavy rain on Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, although the trajectory is always more uncertain after three or four days.
Analysis of satellite and aircraft images show that Ian has become the fourth hurricane of the season. Currently, the eye of the hurricane is in the vicinity of the island of Grand Cayman, and it is expected to continue moving north in the coming hours. The storm is moving at a speed of about 14 miles per hour (22.5 kilometers per hour), with sustained winds reaching 75 miles per hour (120 kilometers per hour), just above the 74-mile-per-hour limit that is conventionally used to classify a storm of this type as a hurricane.
US President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Saturday affecting numerous counties in Florida. This move authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide appropriate assistance. Numerous Florida colleges and universities have suspended classes in anticipation of the tropical storm. Biden has postponed a trip to Florida that he had planned for Tuesday because of the storm.
Florida Governor Ron De Santis has also declared an emergency situation throughout the state. “There is a continuing risk of dangerous storm surge, heavy rain, flash flooding, high winds, dangerous seas and isolated tornado activity,” he said in a statement. “Due to the above conditions, which are anticipated to constitute a major disaster, I hereby declare that a state of emergency exists in the State of Florida.”
“We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track the potential impacts of this storm,” De Santis said in a statement. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is mobilizing food and water trucks, generators and water pumps, identifying potential logistics storage areas to ensure food and water are available if requested. The governor has also mobilized 2,500 Florida National Guardsmen, according to an update released Sunday.
Authorities have asked the population to prepare by stocking up with supplies and water for at least a week. Last weekend, long lines could be seen in some supermarkets and megastores as residents prepared for the arrival of the tropical storm.