Western Cuba is placed on "alert" awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Ian, which turned Tuesday, September 27 into a "major hurricane", while in the United States, Florida is preparing to be affected in turn.

"Ian is becoming a major hurricane," according to the NHC, adding that its wind speed has now reached 185 kilometers per hour and that it should soon make landfall in western Cuba.

The organization describes as "major" hurricanes those whose winds reach at least 178 km / h, or categories 3, 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Ian is now a Major Hurricane (Category 3)#Ian has cleared out a defined eye, and will be moving through western Cuba shortly.

This rapid intensification was expected and well forecast.

A new cone will be released at 5am.


— Nash Rhodes (@NashWX) September 27, 2022

It is then likely to inflict "devastating" damage, damaging houses, uprooting trees and disrupting the supply of water and electricity.

Cuban Civil Defense issued Monday morning a "cyclonic alert" for the six westernmost provinces of the island: Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, Havana, Mayabeque, Cienfuegos and Isla de la Juventud, an island located in 344 km south of the capital.

The waves reached between five and seven meters in height.

Authorities evacuated some 50,000 people in Pinar del Rio.

In the capital, where 2.1 million people live, long queues have formed to access certain foods. 

Havana fishermen sheltered their boats before taking refuge in their homes, and residents reinforced their wooden houses.

The largest island in the British Cayman Islands territory, Grand Cayman, also issued a hurricane warning.

Florida is bracing for the worst

“Ian will then emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday (…) and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday and Thursday,” the NHC warned.

A state of emergency has been declared across Florida and authorities are stepping up preparations.

Ian "will cause heavy rain, high winds, flash flooding and storm surges, as well as isolated tornadoes along Florida's Gulf Coast," Governor Ron DeSantis warned.

He asked residents to stock up on food, water, medicine and fuel as well as prepare for power cuts.

Photo courtesy of @JessDisneying.

Even in NE #Florida water and supplies are flying off shelves in preparation for #HurricaneIan.

Everyone across #Florida still has time to prepare.

#wx #flwx pic.twitter.com/MMcYVer0Q2

— Dr. Athena Masson (@Wx_Goddess) September 26, 2022

Several municipalities in Florida, such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Tampa, have started distributing sandbags to residents to help them protect their homes from the risk of flooding.

Hillsborough (west), where Tampa is located, and Collier (southwest) counties have issued mandatory evacuation orders for the most vulnerable coastal areas.

"We didn't make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat," County Administrator Bonnie Wise said at a press conference Monday.

US President Joe Biden has placed 24 of 67 counties in a state of emergency, allowing federal aid to be released.

NASA has given up the takeoff scheduled for Tuesday of its new mega-rocket for the Moon, from the Kennedy Space Center located in this southern state of the United States.

A new hurricane after Fiona

In Honduras, more than 12,000 people have been evacuated in the north of the country after flooding of rivers caused by the rains associated with the passage of Ian, civil protection services announced on Monday.

The rains add to those of the past few weeks which have soaked the ground and led to flooding which has killed 13 people.

A state of emergency has been declared across the country for 90 days.

Ian follows Hurricane Fiona which ravaged the Caribbean last week, where at least seven people were killed, and the Atlantic coast of Canada (two dead).

The hurricane had already killed at least seven people last week, including four in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in Guadeloupe (France).

With AFP

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