UpdateHurricane Ian gains strength and heads for Cuba and the US state of Florida. Ian grew into a Category 2 (out of 5) tropical cyclone, according to the US Hurricane Center. US Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra declared a public health emergency for the state of Florida on Monday. The city of Tampa – on the Gulf of Mexico – could face its worst storm in more than a hundred years.

    Today, “life-threatening storm surge, hurricane winds, flooding and possible landslides” are expected in Cuba. In the west of the country, the water level can rise up to 4 meters. Ian may then move further up Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane. There, meteorologists warn of storm surge from Wednesday. The risks are greatest between the cities of Fort Myers and Tampa. Hurricane-force winds are expected from late Tuesday evening.

    According to the most recent update from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), Ian was still about 250 kilometers southeast of the west coast of Cuba at 11 p.m. Belgian time on Monday evening.

    Danny Aller and his wife Karen install wooden planks on the windows of their home in Indian Shores, a small town west of Tampa. “Go away, Ian,” it reads on the wood. © AFP

    Evacuation

    The hurricane may make landfall north of Tampa Bay later this week. The Gulf of Mexico city could face its worst storm in more than a hundred years. Mayor Jane Castor has already mandated evacuation for some areas of Tampa. However, there is also the possibility that the hurricane will move further towards the northwest of the state.

    St. Pete Beach near St. Petersburg and Tampa in Florida.  Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has already mandated evacuation for some parts of the city.

    St. Pete Beach near St. Petersburg and Tampa in Florida. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has already mandated evacuation for some parts of the city. © AFP

    US Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra declared a public health emergency for Florida yesterday. The administration of US President Joe Biden said it was working with local authorities to provide assistance. About 300,000 residents are expected to evacuate from the west of the state in the coming days.

    State of emergency

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency over the weekend as a precaution. He called on the population to make preparations. Flooding is expected, he warned yesterday. Several thousand National Guard soldiers have been mobilized. He hopes his state will not be hit too hard. People should nevertheless take into account power cuts that can last for days. “Safety is the greatest commandment,” DeSantis said.

    Getty Images

    © Getty Images


    Storm clouds over St. Petersburg, Florida.

    Storm clouds over St. Petersburg, Florida. © AFP

    Barbara also fills sandbags on Florida's St. Pete Beach.

    Barbara also fills sandbags on Florida’s St. Pete Beach. © AFP

    AFP

    © AFP

    ANP / EPA

    © ANP / EPA

    ANP / EPA

    © ANP / EPA

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