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Tracking Hurricane Ian's path as Florida prepares for landfall

Hurricane Ian continues to strengthen as Florida and Cuba brace for strong winds and possible floods this week.

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Hurricane Ian continues to strengthen as Florida and Cuba brace for strong winds and possible floods this week.

By early Tuesday, the storm was about 50 miles south of the city of western Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A hurricane warning is in place for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Artemisa, while a hurricane watch was issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay.

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The hurricane is expected to bring 6 to 12 inches of rain to central West Florida, 4 to 8 inches to the rest of the Florida Peninsula and 4 to 6 inches to the Keys. The storm could cause flash and urban flooding mid-to-late week in central Florida, as well as across the Florida Keys and the peninsula, through midweek.

At least 20 airports affected by Ian

Airlines are bracing for challenges and airport closures because of Hurricane Ian.

American Airlines said in a travel alert Monday night that at least 20 airports in the western Caribbean and Florida were affected by the storm. The airline said it would allow passengers whose plans will be altered to rebook without fees.

United Airlines said it was issuing waivers for customers traveling to, from or through affected airports. 

Boards go up and residents head out ahead of Ian's arrival

Image: Florida Residents Prepare For Hurricane Ian
Luca Leguerchois, left, and Eglantine Leguerchois board up their Paradise Sweets store in preparation for Hurricane Ian in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday.Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Image: Hurricane Ian prep
A house has "Go Away Ian" painted on boarded-up windows ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ian in Indian Shores, Fla., 25 miles west of Tampa, on Monday.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images

Biden approves emergency declaration for Florida

The Associated Press

President Joe Biden has declared an emergency ahead of Hurricane Ian's landfall, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property.

The president postponed a scheduled trip to Florida on Tuesday because of the storm.

Image: President Biden Hosts Third Meeting  Of The White House Competition Council
President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Ian's eye now visible on Key West radar

Chevron, BP halt production at some Gulf of Mexico oil platforms

Oil giants BP and Chevron halted production at facilities in the Gulf of Mexico as Hurricane Ian continued barreling toward the U.S., the companies said Monday.

BP said in a statement that essential personnel had been evacuated and production was “shut in” at two deepwater oil platforms — Thunder Horse and Na Kika.

Chevron halted production at Petronius and Blind Faith, offshore platforms that are also in the gulf, the company said in a statement.

Chevron said production at other facilities in the gulf remained at normal levels.

Tennessee deploys troops, emergency responders to Florida

Tennessee will send personnel to Florida to help with the Hurricane Ian response.

More than 1,200 National Guard troops and emergency crew members from Tennessee will head south, Gov. Bill Lee said Monday on Twitter.

"The Volunteer State stands ready to support Floridians," he said.

Florida Power & Light says it's ready to respond to outages

Florida Power & Light said it was putting crews in place so it would be able to respond quickly to outages and damage from Hurricane Ian.

The utility said it had 13,000 people ready to deploy across the state for rapid electricity restoration.

DeSantis declares a statewide emergency

The Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a statewide emergency and warned that Ian could lash large areas of the state, knocking out power and interrupting fuel supplies, as it swirls northward off the state’s Gulf Coast.

“You have a significant storm that may end up being a Category 4 hurricane,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “That’s going to cause a huge amount of storm surge. You’re going to have flood events. You’re going to have a lot of different impacts.”

DeSantis said the state has suspended tolls around the Tampa Bay area and mobilized 5,000 Florida National Guard troops, with 2,000 more on standby in neighboring states.

Image: Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference at the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center in Largo on Monday.Chris O'Meara / AP

NBC News

Tampa Bay Buccaneers to move practice ahead of storm

Like much of Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers are taking precautions ahead of Hurricane Ian.

The NFL team said Monday that it would temporarily move its operations to Miami-Dade County because of the storm.

The Buccaneers are set to begin holding practice Wednesday at a Miami Dolphins training facility in Miami Gardens, the team said in a statement Monday evening.

The team is scheduled to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, but the NFL and local officials will monitor the storm to see whether adjustments are necessary, the team statement said.

Image: Green Bay Packers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks with Leonard Fournette #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing the two point conversion against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter in the game at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 25, 2022.Julio Aguilar / Getty Images

Cuba allows U.S. planes into airspace to monitor storm

Mary Murray

Government officials in Cuba said a U.S. hurricane hunter plane had been allowed to fly into Cuban airspace to track the intensity of Hurricane Ian.

Cooperation over weather data between the countries started in the 1990s when the U.S. also began sharing satellite info with Havana.

In December 2016, the two governments signed an agreement on hurricane monitoring and forecasting that also included the effects of climate change.

Hurricane Ian continues to intensify as it barrels toward Cuba

Hurricane Ian continues to “quickly intensify,” and conditions in western Cuba are expected to deteriorate Monday night, with significant wind and storm surge impacts expected, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In its 5 p.m. update, the center said the storm was about 155 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, Pinar del Río and Artemisa, the center reported. In the U.S. mainland, hurricane warnings were in effect for the Florida regions of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay, as well as the Dry Tortugas.

Tampa Bay braces for first major hurricane in a century

A major hurricane has not directly hit the Tampa Bay area in at least a century, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service said Monday. 

Hurricane Ian has the potential to bring up to 15 feet of storm surge in some areas of western Florida, as well as prolonged wind and flooding, said Rick Davis, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa office.

“The Tampa Bay area hasn’t seen this type of storm in decades, if not 100 years,” Davis said. “All the threats that hurricanes can have — we are definitely in the high to extreme category in all these threats.”

The last time a storm of such caliber struck the Tampa Bay area was on Oct. 25, 1921. The National Weather Service said the unnamed storm, believed to be a Category 3, led to at least eight confirmed deaths and cost $5 million. It was the most destructive hurricane in the area since 1848.

When a storm forms in the Atlantic and steering currents are weak, it will often turn to hit the east coast of Florida or miss the state completely, Davis said. And if the steering current is strong, the systems usually strike Texas or the Gulf of Mexico.

Image: Hurricane Ian prep
Barbara Schueler fills sandbags in a vacant lot in preparation for Hurricane Ian in St. Pete Beach, Fla., on Sept. 26, 2022.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images

NASA postpones Artemis I launch because of Ian

NASA is "foregoing a launch opportunity" for Artemis I on Tuesday because of Hurricane Ian, it said in news release Saturday.

It is the third time the lunar rocket's launch has been postponed.

NASA also decided Monday to roll the rocket and the Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center to protect it. The first move is set for 11p.m.

"Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area," NASA said in a statement.

The next launch opportunity for Artemis I is Oct. 2, NASA said.

Image: Artemis I
The Artemis I unmanned lunar rocket sits on launch pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 25, 2022.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close Tuesday afternoon

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close on Tuesday at 1 p.m. in coordination with the mandatory evacuation order issued by Pinellas County.

The airport will remain closed until Pinellas County lifts the order issued Monday afternoon for residents in "Zone A" or those who live along the coast, according to a news release.

The last flight is scheduled to leave the airport at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday.

The airport is open, and "all flights are operating as scheduled at this time."

St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Fla.
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Fla.Google Maps

Counties along Florida's west coast issue mandatory evacuation orders in preparation for Ian


Juliette Arcodia

Anthony Cusumano

Mirna Alsharif, Juliette Arcodia and Anthony Cusumano

Counties along Florida's west coast have issued evacuation orders in preparation for weather conditions expected from Hurricane Ian.

In Hillsborough County, a mandatory evacuation order for residents living along the westernmost part of the Florida Peninsula went into effect Monday at 2 p.m. Emergency shelters were opened in the county, which includes Tampa.

“We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said at a news conference.

Pinellas County has joined its neighbors across the bridge in Hillsborough in issuing a mandatory evacuation order for residents living along the coast, which will go into effect at 6 p.m. Monday. The order includes residential health care facilities.

Mandatory evacuations for people who live farther inland will be issued Tuesday morning.

Hernando County, about an hour north of Hillsborough, issued a voluntary evacuation order Monday for those living in low-lying areas and mobile homes. The order will become mandatory Tuesday morning. Shelters will also open Tuesday, and schools will be closed in the coastal county.

Manatee County, south of Hillsborough, also announced plans for a mandatory evacuation for some residents that will go into effect Tuesday morning, according to a news release.

200,000 residents in mandatory evacuation zone

Juliette Arcodia

About 200,000 people out of the 1.5 million in Hillsborough County live in mandatory evacuation zones, Hillsborough County Communication Strategist Chris Wilkerson said.

Image: Hurricane Ian prep
Men board windows as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Ian in Indian Shores, 25 miles West of Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 26, 2022.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images

County Administrator Bonnie Wise told reporters the orders and recommendations for evacuation will go into effect at 2 p.m. Monday.

U.S. Central Command to evacuate

In coordination with Hillsborough officials, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, home to U.S. Central Command, has also announced a mandatory evacuation.

The order is for “non-mission essential individuals” living in the westernmost part of the county, which includes uniformed service members, civilian employees and their dependents.

This evacuation is in effect and set to be completed by Tuesday afternoon.