Tropical Storm Ian: Cuba issues Hurricane Watch for western provinces

Tropical Storm Ian formed over the Caribbean Sea on Friday evening, and Florida could feel the effects of the storm as soon as Tuesday as it is expected to intensify into a hurricane.

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According to The Associated Press, forecasters said that the storm was on a track that could impact Cuba and South Florida next week.

Update 11:24 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Maximum sustained winds for Ian increased slightly Saturday evening to 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. EDT advisory.

The west-moving storm, which is traveling at 13 mph, is expected to turn west-northwest and northwest on Sunday, when the storm is expected to intensify, The National Hurricane Center said.

In response to the strengthening storm, Cuba has issued a Hurricane Watch for the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. The country issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque and Matanzas.

Hurricane conditions are expected to reach Grand Cayman by early Monday and the Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the island.

Update 5:07 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Tropical Storm Ian did not strengthen much late Saturday afternoon, but the storm is projected to increase in intensity as it moves west in the Caribbean Sea.

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. EDT advisory, Ian was located 255 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica. Maximum winds at the center of the storm remained at 45 mph. The storm continues to track westward at 16 mph.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Jamaica, and the Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands.

Update 2:03 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Hurricane warnings were issued for Grand Cayman as Tropical Storm Ian was projected to intensify into a hurricane on Sunday.

In its 2 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was still packing maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, with wind gusts approaching 60 mph. Ian was still located about 275 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, but had picked up speed slightly, moving west at 16 mph.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Jamaica, and the Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands.

Residents in Cuba and Florida continue to monitor the storm. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis amended his original state of emergency proclamation from 24 counties to include the entire state on Saturday afternoon.

Update 1:34 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis amended his original state of emergency proclamation to include all 67 of Florida’s counties. DeSantis’ original statement on Friday included 24 counties, most of them in South Florida and along the Gulf coast from Collier County northward to Pasco County.

Update 11:02 a.m. EDT Sept. 24: Tropical Storm Ian is expected to rapidly strengthen to a hurricane by Sunday, with hurricane conditions expected in the Cayman Islands by Monday, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory.

At 11 a.m., the center of the storm was located about 275 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica

Maximum sustained winds remained at 45 mph, and the storm was moving west at 15 mph. The storm is expected to become a hurricane late Sunday or Sunday night and could be at or near major hurricane strength late Monday when it approaches western Cuba, the hurricane center said.

A hurricane watch is still in effect for the Cayman Islands and a tropical storm watch has been posted for Jamaica.

Update 7:55 a.m. Sept. 24: In its 8 a.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said that Tropical Storm Ian was expected to strengthen, with hurricane conditions possible in the Cayman Islands by early Monday.

Ian, the ninth-named storm in the Atlantic basin’s 2022 season, was located 300 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, the NHC said. A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cayman Islands and a tropical storm watch has been posted for Jamaica.

The NHC said that residents in central Cuba, the Florida Keys and mainland Florida should monitor the progress of the storm.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday declared a state of emergency in 24 of the state’s 67 counties.

Residents on Friday were already flocking to stores to stock up on water, toilet paper, paper goods and canned food in anticipation of the storm, which is forecast to impact the west-central coast of Florida by Wednesday and could make landfall early the next day.

Update 6:26 a.m. EDT Sept. 24: Tropical Storm Ian strengthened early Saturday, and interests in Cuba and Florida were advised to keep close tabs on the ninth-named system in the 2020 Atlantic basin hurricane season.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, the National Hurricane Center projected landfall sometime Wednesday or Thursday near Sarasota, Florida, the Miami Herald reported.

Winds at the center of the storm had strengthened to 45 mph in the hurricane center’s 5 a.m. advisory. Ian was moving westward across the Caribbean Sea at 14 mph and was located 315 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

The hurricane center said that Ian was expected to become a hurricane sometime late Sunday, with a turn toward the northwest near western Cuba by Monday. Ian could grow to a Category 3 storm by the time it impacts Florida by midweek, the NHC said.

Tropical Storm Ian first formed Friday morning and has been forecasted by the National Hurricane Center to become a Category 3 hurricane that will make landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning, according to WJAX.

WFTV reported that at 11 p.m. EST Tropical Storm Ian officially formed. Before that, WFTV said it was listed as Tropical Depression Nine and it was churning across the Caribbean at 5 p.m, slightly shifting west.

According to WFTV, Tropical Storm Ian could become a hurricane by the weekend.

Earlier on Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency or 24 counties and recommended that residents in those counties prepare for the storm, according to a news release from his office. The counties included Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota and more.

“Today, I signed an Executive Order issuing a State of Emergency due to the threat of Tropical Depression 9,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations. We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”

More resources for families and residents can be found on the Florida disaster website.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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