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Tropical Storm Ian strengthens as it heads to Cuba, Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Authorities and residents in Florida were keeping a cautious eye on Tropical Storm Ian as it rumbled ominously through the Caribbean on Sunday, likely to become a major hurricane on its path toward the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency throughout Florida and urged residents to prepare for the storm to lash large swaths of the state with heavy rains, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters are still unsure of exactly where Ian could make landfall, with current models plotting it toward Florida’s west coast or panhandle regions, he said.

Flash and urban flooding is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula through midweek and then heavy rainfall was possible for north Florida, the Florida panhandle and the southeast United States later this week.

President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Sept. 27 trip to Florida due to the storm.

Cuban state media said emergency authorities have met to plan for the storm’s arrival and prepare for evacuations, though none had been ordered as of Sunday. The track forecast by the National Hurricane Center shows a major storm striking the far-western part of the island early Tuesday, close to the country’s most famed tobacco fields.

Local media in Florida has reported a consumer rush on water, generators and other supplies in some areas where residents moved to stock up on goods ahead of the storm.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said the state has begun loading trailers with more than 2 million meals and more than 1 million gallons of water to be ready to be sent into impacted areas. He said the state has had frequent communication with local governments and is processing requests for resources.

Elsewhere, Fiona crashed ashore Saturday in Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Canada region, washing houses into the sea, tearing off rooftops and knocking out power to more than 500,000 customers in two provinces.

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