is expected to hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 3 storm by late Wednesday, officials said.
“The National Hurricane Center is now forecasting that Venice will make landfall in 35 hours, traveling at 125 mph…press conference Tuesday morning.
Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be among the most likely targets for their first direct hit by a major hurricane in a century. But the latest path projection means Ian is now expected to move further south along the coast.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday in some areas around Tampa Bay, and officials asked others in the area to leave voluntarily.
“It’s important to say that in the Tampa Bay region, you’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still a storm surge event coming up in the Tampa Bay region,” Guthrie said. “You must continue to follow the warnings that apply to Pinellas, Tampa, Manatee, Hillsborough. Don’t return yet when you’re evacuated.’
Forecasters said tropical storm conditions could begin along Florida’s southwest coast Tuesday evening. Hurricane conditions are expected on the state’s west coast Wednesday morning, they said.
“Reinforcements are expected later this morning after Ian surfaced over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico,” the National Hurricane Center said. “Ian is expected to approach Florida’s west coast as a dangerous major hurricane.”
On Tuesday morning, the storm ravaged Cuba with high winds and life-threatening storm surges, according to forecasters. Up to 16 inches of rain could be seen in some areas, and a storm surge could raise water levels along western Cuba by as much as 14 feet.
Contributions: The Associated Press