Ian strengthened into a hurricane on Monday morning and is forecast to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane as it nears Western Cuba Monday night, the National Hurricane Center said.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the West Coast of Florida from North of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay.
This means those in the area could see hurricane conditions (maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) in the next two days.
On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, “There’s no need to panic.”
“Listen to the folks, at the local level, listen to what they advise in terms of preparations and any evacuations. If you’re going to be in your home, when the power goes out and you have one of the generators, just understand those generators must be operated outside the home,” DeSantis said.
“We’ve also authorized emergency refills of maintenance prescriptions for 30 days and we would anticipate anyone as part of your hurricane preparedness plan, make sure you have the prescriptions that you need,” DeSantis added.
The hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical storm-force winds, the NHC said.
“Folks should be prepared. If you’re in this region, there is going to be an interruption of power. So just plan on that and understand that it will happen. Even if the eye of the storm doesn’t hit your region, you’re going to have significant winds, it’s going to knock over trees and cause interruptions.
“Just be prepared for that,” said DeSantis. “Once it’s safe to go in there and get as much power back on as quickly as possible.”
On Monday, Hillsborough County issued a mandatory evacuation for all of Zone A in the county and voluntary evacuations for Zone B.
Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said, “As you know, the storm has intensified into a hurricane and he continues to grow stronger and in size. This is not surprising, it has been forecast for days As a result and in order to protect residents, we are issuing, a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A and recommending a voluntary evacuation for Zone B and opening emergency shelters.”
“All this will take effect at two o’clock today. We do not make this decision easily. This storm poses a serious threat and we must do everything we can to protect our residents I can’t stress this enough, evacuation shelters are a last resort. They are not comfortable places. They could be crowded and they could be noisy and you could be in a shelter for days,” said Wise.