The National Hurricane Center upgraded Ian to hurricane status on Monday as the storm had top sustained winds of 80 mph, as of 11 a.m. ET. As the storm is expected to move north from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico, a hurricane watch was issued for parts of Florida, including the Tampa area.
The National Hurricane Center said it expects Ian to become a major hurricane before making landfall in Florida later this week. Where the hurricane will come ashore on Florida’s gulf coast remains a question. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast cone has it making landfall anywhere from the Fort Myers to Pensacola areas.
Before threatening Florida, Ian could endanger the western tip of Cuba. A hurricane warning is in effect as Ian is expected to cross Cuba on Tuesday.
Although Ian is expected to rapidly intensify through Wednesday evening, forecasters are hopeful that it won’t maintain its intensity prior to landfall. The National Hurricane Center said it expects increased wind shear and a drier mid-level environment to affect the hurricane by late Wednesday.
The federal government has started mobilizing resources to Florida. Over the weekend, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state.