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Hurricane Ian could strengthen to a Category 4 storm as it targets Florida, forecasters say.
The hurricane made landfall in Cuba about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday just southwest of La Coloma in the western province of Pinar del Río with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters expect the storm to continue to intensify as it makes its way north toward the west coast of Florida, where a hurricane warning has been issued from Chokoloskee to Anclote River, including Tampa Bay, and Dry Tortugas.
A number of counties along Florida’s west coast issued evacuation orders. It is not yet clear where exactly Ian will make landfall, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said late Tuesday the forecast track appeared to show the storm making landfall at Charlotte and Lee counties, south of Tampa.
Ian is expected to bring 12 to 18 inches of rain to central and northeast Florida, and 6 to 8 inches to the Keys and south Florida through Thursday.
Hurricane Ian moving steadily toward Florida's west coast
Hurricane Ian was moving closer to Florida's west coast early Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In its latest update at 2 a.m., the center said Ian was moving northeast at about 10 mph, and is expected to slow Wednesday before turning to the north on Thursday.
The Category 3 storm was about 95 miles southwest of Naples early Wednesday.
The hurricane is expected to move onshore later Wednesday, the hurricane center said.
The center of the storm is expected to pass over central Florida on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and emerge over the western Atlantic by late Thursday, the hurricane center said.
Tampa, at risk for major flooding, was in midst of major infrastructure upgrades years from completion
Tampa has been undergoing major infrastructure upgrades to protect the vulnerable city from flooding, but as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida’s west coast, the project is still years from completion.
The city is in the early phases of a roughly $39 million project to improve drainage and reduce flooding in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Construction is only about 30% done, said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
The three-year project to build a major stormwater conveyance system began late last year. It was on schedule before Ian threatened to undo its progress this week with forecasted wind speeds topping 130 mph, prolonged storm surges of up to 15 feet expected in some areas, heavy rainfall and possible tornadoes.
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Officials warn of tornadoes in Florida
Hurricane Ian may be unleashing tornadoes on southern Florida as the state prepares for a direct hit from the storm, officials said Tuesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters late Tuesday that two twisters had been seen on radar in Palm Beach County, on the state’s southeast coast. There were also reports of possible tornadoes in nearby Hollywood, he said.
Kevin Guthrie, the state’s emergency management director, warned that tropical tornadoes will “occur very quickly and they will happen overnight tonight. They will occur during heavy rain. You will not be able to see them coming.”
If you get a weather alert indicating a tornado could be nearby, he said, stay in an interior room away from windows and protect your body and head from falling debris.
Cuban cigar factory owner calls Hurricane Ian 'apocalyptic'
Images from Cuba showed parts of a cigar factory destroyed by Hurricane Ian — a scene of devastation the factory’s owner described as “apocalyptic.”
Hirochi Robaina, the owner of Finca Robaina, posted nearly two dozen pictures on his Facebook page Tuesday showing piles of corrugated roofing, the remains of greenhouses and wood-frame buildings that appeared to have been demolished.
“It was apocalyptic,” he said. “A real disaster.”
The factory is in Pinar del Río province, where the storm made landfall early Tuesday as a Category 3 storm.
Authorities cut power to the entire province of 850,000 people, and more than 1 million were without electricity across the island, Reuters reported.
Hurricane Ian expected to slow overnight
By late Tuesday, Hurricane Ian was about 110 miles from Naples, Florida, and had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It was moving northeast at 10 mph but was expected to slow overnight, the center said in its 11 p.m. update.
The center of the storm was predicted to pass west of the Florida Keys, an area already being lashed by winds, in the coming hours.
Amazon temporarily closes some Florida warehouses
Amazon is temporarily closing warehouses in parts of Florida as Hurricane Ian churns toward the state.
The company shuttered sites Tuesday near Tampa and Orlando, according to notices sent to employees and reviewed by CNBC. Amazon expects the facilities to remain closed until Friday, the notices state.
“We will continue to monitor the weather and will provide updates on when the building will reopen,” according to a notice that was sent to workers at a facility in the Tampa suburb of Temple Terrace.
Amazon confirmed that it’s closing some sites as a safety precaution ahead of the storm.
“We’re closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ian and making adjustments to our operations in order to keep our employees and those delivering for us safe,” Richard Rocha, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement. “We’re in regular contact with our employees and delivery partners to ensure everyone is aware of any site closures or unsafe conditions and will continue to make adjustments as needed.”
Florida Keys are getting lashed by tropical storm winds
Hurricane Ian was expected to pass west of the Florida Keys on Tuesday night before it heads to the state's west coast Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In an update Tuesday evening, the center said the Category 3 storm was expected to continue strengthening.
Tropical storm conditions were occurring in the Keys, where sustained tropical storm-force winds were recorded at Key West International Airport and Key West Naval Air Station, according to the center.
A 52 mph gust was recorded at Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, and a data buoy center near Sombrero Key reported sustained wind of 43 mph, the center said.
At 8 p.m. ET the storm was about 180 miles southwest of Punta Gorda, Florida, and 20 miles southwest of the Dry Tortugas. Ian had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was moving at 10 mph.
All of Cuba without power after storm
Hours after Ian made landfall in Cuba, the entire island was without power because of infrastructure damage, the country’s electricity provider said.
Crews were working to restore power, which the agency should begin to return overnight and into Wednesday.
Navy fleet stationed in Jacksonville preparing for hurricane
The Navy’s 4th Fleet, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, is completing preparations as Hurricane Ian bears down on the state.
Ships began departing Tuesday from the fleet’s headquarters at Naval Station Mayport, and aircraft were also leaving, the fleet said in a statement.
Four ships and multiple rotary and fixed-wing aircraft were expected to leave the area before the storm.
Crews were working to heavy weather moor the six ships that will not be departing, and aircraft that will stay will be kept in hangars rated to withstand hurricane-force winds, the fleet said.
Nonessential active-duty service members, civilian employees, drilling reservists and others were allowed to evacuate from Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, Rear Adm. Wes McCall of Navy Region Southeast said in the statement.
All bases remained open, the statement said.
Floridians head for shelters as Ian barrels toward Tampa
TAMPA, Fla. — More than 2 million people in Florida were under orders to pack up and head east to safer ground Tuesday as Hurricane Ian barreled north from Cuba on a path toward Tampa.
Before city officials ordered mandatory evacuations of the Tampa neighborhoods closest to the water, Steve McClure, 54, had stocked up on food, batteries and flashlights and made plans to bunk with his parents in a nearby county.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially with the track of the hurricane consistently changing,” said McClure, a three-year Tampa resident who was living in nearby Clearwater when Hurricane Elena battered Florida’s Gulf Coast in 1985. “First it was coming right at us a day ago. Now it’s turning a bit to the east.”
Biden speaks to DeSantis about federal response to Ian
President Joe Biden spoke with Gov. Ron DeSantis to "discuss the steps the Federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted Tuesday night.
"The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination," she added.
The hurricane prompted the White House, for the second time in three months, to postpone a presidential trip to Florida. Biden had been scheduled to campaign Tuesday with Charlie Crist, the Democrat who hopes to unseat DeSantis in November.
Florida mayor: ‘There’s still time to evacuate’
Ian reignites panic for Florida’s strapped insurance market
Numerous insurance companies in Florida have closed their doors in recent years in a slow-moving collapse for the industry, forcing rates to spike and property owners to turn to the state-owned insurer of last resort.
“Florida’s property insurance market was the most volatile in the U.S. before Hurricane Ian formed and will most likely become even more unstable in the wake of the storm,” said Mark Friedlander, a director at the Insurance Information Institute in Florida.
Life-threatening storm surge in Florida 'increasingly likely,' NHC warns
The National Hurricane Center warned that life-threatening storm surge is “increasingly likely” along Florida’s west coast in its Tuesday evening advisory about Hurricane Ian, saying the highest risk is the region from Naples to Sarasota.
The storm remains a Category 3 hurricane, and it is expected to intensify today through Wednesday. Forecasters predict it will approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday “as an extremely dangerous major hurricane.”
Ian could also bring damaging winds as early as Wednesday morning in southwest and west-central Florida, the hurricane center said. “Devastating wind damage is expected near the core of Ian. Residents should rush all preparations to completions,” it said in a statement.
Heavy rain will also affect much of Florida “for the next several days,” it said. “Considerable flooding is expected with widespread, prolonged moderate to major river flooding expected across central Florida.”
Disney World theme parks will close in anticipation of Ian
Although Walt Disney World Resort remained open Tuesday, the Orlando-area attraction announced it would be closing in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s making landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
"Given the latest projections, Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks will be closed on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and Thursday, Sept. 29. Disney Springs will be closed on Wednesday, Sept. 28," Disney Parks said Tuesday afternoon.
"We anticipate Disney Springs will be closed on Thursday, Sept. 29, and we will provide updates as we continue to track the storm. We are monitoring weather conditions so we can make timely decisions for the safety of our cast and guests, including when it's safe for cast to return to the site to prepare for reopening."
Universal theme park in Orlando plans two-day closure
Universal Orlando Resort will shut its doors Wednesday and Thursday because of Hurricane Ian, the theme park and entertainment complex announced Tuesday afternoon.
The park will reopen Friday "as conditions permit," it said in a statement.
The complex's hotels are "currently at full capacity and will remain operational as they focus on taking care of our guests," the statement said.
Universal Orlando Resort and NBC News are both units of Comcast's NBCUniversal.
Georgia declares state of emergency in preparation for Ian
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for all counties Tuesday in preparation for Ian's impact later in the week. The state of emergency will go into effect 7 a.m. Thursday and expire midnight Friday.
"Damaging winds will be possible statewide, even well away from the center of the storm, and downed trees and powerlines are possible statewide on Friday and Saturday," the governor's office said in a statement.
"Widespread rainfall of 2 to 4 inches is also possible statewide, with 4 to 6 inches or more forecast in Southeast Georgia. Flash flooding, power outages, and other dangerous situations are possible, especially in Southeast Georgia."
Kemp encouraged residents to remain alert and take precautions to protect themselves and their families.
Ian could strengthen to Category 4 on Tuesday
Ian, now a major Category 3 hurricane, could strengthen to a Category 4 storm Tuesday evening as it moves over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, according to NBC News forecasters.
Ian will then approach the west coast of Florida, potentially making landfall late Wednesday into Thursday morning as a Category 2 or 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Models show the storm landing somewhere between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. The system is still forecast to slow to as low as 3 to 4 mph, prolonging the impacts from heavy rain, strong wind and storm surge.
Outer bands of Ian were affecting southern Florida on Tuesday afternoon, bringing breezy conditions, heavy rain and the risk of tornadoes. A tornado watch remains in effect through Tuesday evening for Miami, West Palm Beach, and the Keys.
Biden warns of 'life-threatening and devastating' storm
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said his administration is working with Florida officials to prepare for Hurricane Ian’s landfall as he urged those in the path of the storm to follow evacuation orders from local officials.
He warned the storm could be “life-threatening and devastating.”
“Our safety is more important than anything,” Biden said. “Our hearts are with everyone who will feel the effects of this storm, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Biden said that he has approved an emergency assistance request from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and that the administration has been positioning supplies and personnel in recent days, including 3.5 million liters of water, 3.7 million meals and 700 generators.
The president spoke Tuesday with the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater to discuss preparations. Biden has yet to speak with DeSantis — the pair have often been at political odds — but Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have been in direct communication with the governor, administration officials said.
Manatee County announces it is out of sandbags
Manatee County, on the southern shore of the Tampa Bay, said Tuesday afternoon that its supply of sandbags has "been exhausted" in anticipation of Hurricane Ian's arrival. The announcement comes shortly after the city of Tampa stopped providing free sandbags, saying its distribution sites had reached capacity.
Orlando and Tampa airports announce closings
Orlando International Airport said it will cease commercial operations at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Ian’s anticipated landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The airport said that it is “prepared” for Ian’s impact and that it made the plan to close its doors and runways after having conferred with the National Weather Service, airlines and its federal partners.
Travelers are urged to contact their airlines directly for updates about flights.
Tampa International Airport also announced it will suspend all operations Tuesday at 5 p.m., with no more commercial flights.
“Right now, our priority is to protect our employees and our facilities,” Joe Lopano, the CEO of Tampa International Airport, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Disney World remains open as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, remained open Tuesday amid the approach of Hurricane Ian along Florida’s western coast — though some surrounding Disney properties are set to temporarily close.
The company said in a statement that its theme parks and the Disney Springs shopping area are “currently operating under normal conditions,” even as it prepares to make adjustments as needed based on weather data.
Tampa halts free sandbag distribution as sites hit capacity
Sandbag distribution locations in Tampa, Florida, have hit their capacity limits, city officials said Tuesday
The city announced at 11:15 a.m. that three sites offering free sandbags to the public were “at capacity.”
“If you are not currently in line, you will not be able to pickup free sandbags,” it said in a tweet.
Locals had been stocking up on the bags ahead of Hurricane Ian, which could bring 5 to 10 feet of storm surge to the state, with more than 47,500 bags distributed Monday, according to the city.
Southeastern U.S. may also see impact from Ian, forecasters say
The southeastern U.S., including the east coast of Florida, and Georgia and South Carolina, may see some impact from Hurricane Ian, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A storm surge warning was issued for Florida's east coast from Marineland to St. Marys River along the southern border of Georgia.
A storm surge watch was issued from St. Marys River to south Santee River in South Carolina, and a tropical storm warning along the East Coast was extended north to Altamaha Sound, Georgia, and south to Boca Raton, Florida.
Hillsborough County changes voluntary evacuation to mandatory
Hillsborough County officials on Tuesday changed the evacuation for residents living in the Zone B area of the flood map from voluntary to mandatory.
“Yesterday, we issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A and recommended a voluntary evacuation zone due to the growing intensity and size of a major hurricane in ... the likelihood that Hillsborough County will be significantly impacted,” County Administrator Bonnie Wise said at a press conference.
“We are amending the voluntary evacuation for Zone B to a mandatory evacuation. Just to be clear, the voluntary evacuation for Zone B is being upgraded to a mandatory evacuation."
Hillsborough County includes Tampa and is forecast to be in the path of Hurricane Ian. A map of evacuation zones can be found here.
Citrus County officials issue mandatory evacuation order
Officials in Citrus County, about 70 miles north of Tampa, have issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents living on the westernmost coast, including low-lying areas around U.S. Highway 19.
Residents in other areas within the county, especially those living in mobile and manufactured homes, as well as recreational vehicles, were advised to evacuate.
Shelters in the county will be opening Tuesday at 6 p.m. according to officials.
St. Petersburg mayor: People 'need to get to a safe place' as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida
Florida Keys officials: Find a safe place to be by 2 p.m.
Florida Keys residents and visitors need to find a safe place to shelter by 2 p.m. Tuesday, officials said, warning that some emergency operations would be suspended once wind speeds become dangerously high.
Monroe County Emergency Management urged everyone to get off the roads and into a “safe structure” ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival, adding that police and fire operations will stop when winds reach 35 mph and will resume when they can safely do so.
The agency said it plans to open a shelter at Key West High School, where residents or visitors can ride out the storm, at noon Tuesday.
Winds with tropical storm force are expected in the Lower Keys starting Tuesday afternoon and are forecast to reach the Middle Keys by evening, according to officials. A storm surge watch is in effect for all of the Keys, with the potential for storm surge flooding 1 to 3 feet above normal high tides.
Sarasota County officials warn water will be shut off for 2 barrier islands
Officials in Sarasota County have warned that water will be shut off for residents on the barrier islands of Siesta Key and Casey Key on Tuesday night and will not return until Hurricane Ian passes.
Water is expected to be shut off in both areas between 5 to 7 p.m. ET, officials said.
It is still unclear where exactly Ian will make landfall, but current models suggest it is on track to hit the Sarasota area Wednesday evening.
Ian knocks out power in Havana and western Cuba
At least 16,000 people in Havana, the capital of Cuba and its largest city, were without power Tuesday morning, the country's state-run media reported.
In addition, state TV said the rural western provinces of Pinar del Río, which is known for its farming and tobacco, and Artemisa had no electricity.
Florida Highway Patrol prepares to close Tampa Bay area bridges when storm hits
The Florida Highway Patrol said it was monitoring the advance of Hurricane Ian and would determine "the safest time and point" to close Tampa Bay area bridges as heavy winds move in.
'Bridges are routinely closed when sustained wind speeds reach 40+ miles per hour or storm surge impacts the highways," the state agency said in a statement. "As the storm progresses, the FHP will determine the safest time and point to close the bridge(s) and to also announce it as the earliest moment in an effort to keep motorists and evacuees informed."
Heavy wind and rain hit Florida Keys ahead of Ian's arrival
Heavy wind and rain could be seen pounding the Florida Keys in video captured ahead of Hurricane Ian’s arrival and shared on social media.
“Hurricane Ian hasn’t even gotten as close to Florida but these huge storms keep rolling through the Keys," wrote Twitter user @CavsPulse, who said the video was taken in Marathon, Florida. It was not immediately clear when the video was taken.
More than 20,000 lineworkers prepared for restoration efforts across Florida, DeSantis says
More than 20,000 lineworkers are standing at the ready to work on restoration efforts as Hurricane Ian threatens to bring widespread outages, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, he said hundreds of generators and pumps had also been sent to areas expected to be hit, along with food and water supplies.
DeSantis called on residents to follow evacuation orders as he told those able to remain in their homes to "get those supplies that you may need to deal with what's going to happen over the next few days."
Significant impact on Florida likely
As Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida, significant impacts on the state are just about certain, with the forecast looking more ominous for Tampa, specifically, in terms of rain, wind and storm surge impacts.
Major hurricanes often wobble and even a 10-mile wobble could make the difference between a Tampa area landfall versus Sarasota in the final 24 hours. This will also have implications on what area gets the worst surge of 5 to 10 feet.
While hurricane force wind gusts will be likely for millions along the coast taking down trees and knocking out power, water can be the most deadly during hurricanes due to the combined threats of storm surge and flash flooding from extreme rainfall. This storm is expected to produce a dangerous storm surge south of the landfall location by about 20 to 30 miles.
Hurricane Ian over Cuba on Tuesday morning
Treasure Island police start limiting traffic to barrier island as Ian advances
The Treasure Island Police Department has begun limiting traffic onto the barrier island as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida.
Only residents, property owners, business owners, business employees and contractors will have access, police said.
Those allowed entry must be able to provide a "Barrier Island Re-Entry Permit" or photo ID, as well as reasonable proof that they reside or have legitimate business there, police said.
Illinois energy provider sending crews to Florida, Georgia ahead of expected outages
Illinois energy company Commonwealth Edison, known as ComEd, is dispatching hundreds of staff and contract workers to Florida and Georgia to help with potential outages from Hurricane Ian.
On Tuesday, the company said it would be sending 100 ComEd employees, 150 contractors and support staff, totaling more than 250 workers, to assist in expected restoration efforts.
Crews are expected to depart from locations around the Chicago area around 8 a.m. ET Tuesday.
"After completing safety trainings upon arrival, ComEd crews will help repair damage and restore service as quickly and safely as possible," the company said.
Ian expected to strengthen later Tuesday morning
Hurricane Ian is expected to strengthen later Tuesday morning, officials said.
The center of the storm is projected to move over western Cuba over the next few hours, the National Hurricane Center said.
The hurricane will then emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen during that time too, it said. Maximum sustained winds were at 125 mph as of around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Ian is then expected to approach the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane, with the storm on track to pass west of the Florida Keys later Tuesday.
Hurricane warning extended along west coast of Florida to Bonita Beach
A hurricane warning has been extended southward along the coast of Florida to Bonita Beach, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning.
The hurricane warning was in place for parts of the west coast from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay, as of early Tuesday. Meanwhile, a hurricane watch was in effect from north of the Anclote River to the Suwannee River.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within an identified area, while a hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible within a given area, according to the hurricane center.
Track Ian's path as major hurricane barrels toward Florida
Hurricane Ian is set to take aim at Florida’s west coast as early as Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Ian strengthened into a major Category 3 storm early Tuesday as it made landfall in western Cuba with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, the the hurricane center said. The storm is expected to remain a major hurricane when it reaches the Florida west coast, it said.
Follow our live tracker monitoring Ian's path as it barrels toward Florida.
At least 20 airports affected by Ian
At least 20 airports are expected to be affected by Hurricane Ian's impending arrival as airlines prepare for cancellations and delays.
American Airlines said in a travel alert Monday night that at least 20 airports in the western Caribbean and Florida would be affected by the storm. As of early Tuesday, the number of affected airports remained the same.
The airline said passengers whose plans will be impacted will be able to rebook without fees.
United Airlines also said it was issuing waivers for customers traveling to, from or through affected airports.