Tropical Storm Ian intensified into a hurricane early Monday morning (Sept. 26), triggering a hurricane watch for parts of Florida’s west coast, The Weather Channel reports.
Outer bands of heavy rain battered Grand Cayman in the western Caribbean Sea with winds gusting up to 53 mph. Ian is expected to rumble toward Cuba Monday night into early Tuesday before heading toward either the Florida Panhandle or the Florida Peninsula.
The storm is expected to grow into a major category 3 hurricane by the time it reaches Cuba, possibly making landfall in Florida as soon as late Wednesday. It could drop up to 15 inches of rain on parts of western Florida through the week, possibly causing flash floods and power outages.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Friday for 24 counties and requested a federal pre-landfall emergency declaration in preparation for what could be a devastating storm.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said Friday. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”
Ian is the fourth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The first major hurricane of the season, Fiona, is blamed for at least three deaths – one in the Dominican Republic and two in Puerto Rico.
Fiona also caused widespread flooding and power outages across the Caribbean before making landfall Saturday in Nova Scotia, Canada, where it swept away homes, toppled trees and left thousands of residents in the dark.