(CNN) – Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to intensify into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico before weakening before reaching Florida this week, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.
Ian, which developed in the central Caribbean Sea on Friday, will rapidly intensify on Sunday, increasing its wind speed to 35 mph (56 km/h) over the next 24 hours, becoming a Category 3 hurricane on Monday . Cuba, the Hurricane Center said. Forecasters predict the storm will reach its Category 4 peak in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in three days.
Ian is expected to come to the United States, according to National Weather Service in MiamiBut there is uncertainty about its forecast track, with models showing a wide range of possible scenarios after Tuesday: European models on Sunday morning showed it would make landfall along the west-central coast of Florida on Wednesday morning, while the US Models showed it was making landfall in western Florida on Friday morning.
The Hurricane Center’s forecast splits the difference, indicating that it will make landfall in Big Bend, Florida as a weakening storm Thursday night.
“Despite Ian’s exact track and intensity, there is a risk of dangerous storms, gale-force winds and heavy rain hitting the west coast of Florida through the middle of next week,” the Hurricane Center said.
Across the state, local officials are urging residents to be prepared for flash floods and devastating winds.
“It’s the calm before the storm,” Naples Mayor Teresa Hetman told CNN on Saturday. “We experience this kind of adrenaline rush before a storm and the road can change at any time, but we want our citizens to be prepared.”
According to an update from the Hurricane Center on Sunday morning, Ian is moving to the south-southeast of Grand Cayman at about 345 miles (555 km/h) and west-northwest at 12 mph (19 km/h) is increasing. Maximum sustained winds reach 50 mph (85 km/h).
A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Cayman, and forecasters are confident that residents of western Cuba will face “life-threatening” storms and hurricane-force winds on Monday, the hurricane center said. Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of western Cuba.
Tropical storm conditions are possible throughout Cuba on Monday afternoon and hurricane conditions are likely to continue through Monday through Tuesday. Ian has forecast 100 to 200 mm of rain with varying totals of up to 300 mm in western Cuba. A storm surge of 9 to 14 feet (2 to 4 m) is also forecast along the western Cuban coast in areas of onshore winds Monday night through Tuesday.
As the storm approaches Florida, officials are distributing sandbags and asking Floridians to prepare their assets to reduce the risk of storm damage and to stock up on supplies such as radios, water, canned food and medicine. Huh. Residents should also pack important documents and know their evacuation routes.
On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expanded an emergency order to include every county in the state, saying “the situation is estimated to constitute a major disaster.” US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement response efforts.
Concerns about Ian’s arrival have also delayed the third Artemis I rocket launch attempt, scheduled for Tuesday.
Be prepared for floods and strong winds, warn officials
Storm surge – when the force of a storm or hurricane pushes ocean waters ashore – can be one of a hurricane’s greatest threats to life and property.
Miami-Dade County residents are being asked to evacuate ahead of the storm, according to county officials.
“We’re out of the cone of uncertainty. We can’t relax,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levin Cava told CNN on Saturday. “We know there’s always a chance that this could change. The storm has continued to move west. This is the time when everyone needs to make sure they have a plan.”
Levin Cava urged residents to make sure they have enough food and water and check their storm surge plan area.
“We are very hopeful that even with a major rain event, we can handle it,” he said. “We are on standby. We have additional pumps and we have worked with the South Florida Water Management District to lower the level of the canal.”
Miami-Dade County is preparing its “comprehensive shelter system,” including for those fleeing the Florida Keys, if an evacuation is ordered there.
In Naples, Hetman said he already sees lines at gas stations as residents prepare for a potential storm.
“They’re taking it seriously, and I encourage those who don’t take it seriously, to always take a hurricane seriously, because you never guess which way it might turn. And We have to be prepared and if it doesn’t come straight at us, it could have strong winds,” Hetman said.
In Sarasota, officers are checking generators, making plans with local police, trying to estimate how much flooding is possible and warning residents to be prepared, Mayor Eric Arroyo told CNN. Told.
“Don’t underestimate the dangers that come with gusts of wind, storm surge, flooding, especially since we’re a coastal city. That’s why we’re telling them to leave now, to be ready early,” Arroyo said .
CNN’s Derek Van Dam, Taylor Ward, Gregory Cleary and Vanessa Price contributed to this report.