Hurricane Ian update: Storm strengthening to ‘dangerous’ Category 4 on path to Florida

Florida bracing for Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian is gathering strength and bearing down on Florida as the state races to finalize storm preparations and evacuate its most at-risk people ahead of expected landfall on Wednesday.

The enormous, Category 3 storm was already bringing impacts to Key West on Tuesday after it lashed Cuba with heavy rain and winds overnight and threatened storm surge, flash flooding and landslides.

Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to heed warnings to evacuate to higher ground due to potential for “’catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge”. As of Tuesday, 2.5 million people in Florida were under evacuation orders.

The most recent weather models have the hurricane projected to make landfall south of Tampa Bay where storm surge could reach up to 12 ft (3.7 meters). Up to 24 inches (61cm) of rain is expected in some areas and wind speeds of 130 miles per hour (209km/h).

Emergency officials were warning that the life-threatening conditions would limit the potential for rescues once the storm arrived.

“You will be on your own,” St Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch warned.

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January 6 Committee hearing could be postponed

A hearing for the January 6 Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday is likely to be postponed on account of the hurricane, a reporter with The Washington Post says.

This was the last scheduled hearing for the committee.

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How to keep your pet safe during a storm like Hurricane Ian

More than two million Floridians are under evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian barrels down on the state, and many will be seeking higher ground and shelter with their pets.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some advice for people evacuating or sheltering with pets to keep both humans and animals safe.

For one, pet owners should make all the necessary preparations ahead of the storm that everyone else makes, like having a flashlight and some food, securing down your home and staying away from windows and doors.

Pet owners can also keep their animals in crates or cages to keep them safe, the FDA says.

If you are under evacuation orders, the FDA says that the number one thing you can do to keep your pets safe is bring them with you. Service animals are allowed at all shelters, they add, but some shelters may not take pet animals, so call ahead and have a plan to stay at a shelter or another place that allows pets.

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People prepare to evacuate to shelters across Florida

Shelters for Hurricane Ian in Central Florida

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Biden speaks with Tampa Bay mayors

President Joe Biden has called the mayors of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, all in the Tampa Bay area, to talk about hurricane preparations.

Mr Biden approved an emergency declaration in anticipation of Hurricane Ian’s impact on Florida, and urged residents to heed evacuation warnings.

“This could be a very severe hurricane, life-threatening and devastating in its impact,” the president said at the White House on Tuesday.

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‘Extremely dangerous major hurricane’: National Hurricane Center issues 2pm update

The US National Hurricane Center issued its latest update at 2pm (Eastern time) on Tuesday with the major takeaway that Ian was growing stronger stronger in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Ian is moving north at about 10 mph (17 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue today, forecasters reported.

A turn toward the north-northeast with a reduction in forward speed is forecast on Tuesday night into Wednesday. On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico today, pass west of the Florida Keys later tonight, and approach the west coast of Florida within the hurricane warning area on Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher tastes. Ian is a Category 3 hurricane and restrengthening is expected later today through Wednesday. Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane.

The full report can be found here.

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Photos emerge of Hurricane Ian’s impacts on Cuba

Hurricane Ian has crashed into Cuba as a major storm.

Ian made landfall at 4.30am (EDT) on Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in the nation’s main tobacco-growing region.

The US National Hurricane Center said “significant wind and storm surge impacts” occurred Tuesday morning in western Cuba. Ian struck with sustained top winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). As much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge was predicted along Cuba’s coast.

Ian was forecast to strengthen even more over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, reaching top winds of 140 mph (225 km/h) as it approaches Florida’s southwest coast.

Fallen utility poles line a street after Hurricane Ian hit Pinar del Rio, Cuba on Tuesday

(PA)

Debris hang on the street as Hurricane Ian passes through Pinar del Rio, Cuba on Tuesday

(REUTERS)

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Key West begins to feel the impacts from Hurricane Ian

Waves were already crashing into the famous Southernmost Point in the United States early on Tuesday afternoon as the bands of Hurricane Ian began to impact Florida.

Videos were shared of social media of waves crashing over the sea wall.

As of midday Tuesday (EST), the storm was moving at 10mph over Havana in the direction of Key West with maximum sustained winds of about 115mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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hurricane hunters movie eye of the storm

Footage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows a plane flying into Hurricane Ian’s eye as it approaches Florida over the Caribbean.

“Hurricane hunters” are pilots who fly into the tropical storm systems to gather data and monitor the weather.

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Fire at Kennedy Space Center

Nasa has reported a small fire in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday morning but says the Artemis I rocket was “not at risk.”

The agency had to move the rocket inside over the weekend as Hurricane Ian moves in toward the state. The planned take-off earlier this month was canceled after mechanical issues.

The Kennedy Space Center is on Florida’s Atlantic Coast and is forecast to see high winds and rain after the hurricane hits the other side of the state and moves eastward.

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Orlando airport to close

The Orlando International Airport announced that commercial service will stop at 10:30 AM local time on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian moves inland.

The airport asked passengers to refer to their individual airlines for flight status.

The Orlando area will not face the worst of the storm, but will still see significant wind, rain and flooding potential as it moves in from the coast starting Wednesday morning.

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