Tropical Storm Ian strengthened as it moved over the Caribbean Saturday and could approach Florida early next week as a major hurricane, according to forecasters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Saturday that Tropical Storm Ian was 300 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving west-southwest at 15 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
“Early next week, Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall,” the National Hurricane Center said.
On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order issuing a state of emergency for 24 Florida counties which could be in the storm’s path. The order also places the Florida National Guard on standby. DeSantis also put in a request for a federal “pre-landfall emergency declaration.”
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”
The storm is alsoof NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, the agency said Friday.
On Saturday, a hurricane watch was is in effect for the Cayman Islands and a tropical storm watch was in effect for Jamaica.
“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is forecast to move across the central Caribbean Sea today, pass southwest of Jamaica on Sunday, and pass near or over the Cayman Islands Sunday night and early Monday. Ian will then approach western Cuba on Monday,” said the National Hurricane Center.