May 22, 2024
A hurricane off the coast of Florida is "near the worst-case scenario," the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, Jamie Rhome, said Monday.

A hurricane off the coast of Florida is “near the worst-case scenario,” the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, Jamie Rhome, said Monday.

The current track for Hurricane Ian puts Tampa Bay on the right side of the storm, with the hurricane projected to hit a speed of under 5 mph, which would be ‘devastating’ for the community, said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

WATCH LIVE: HURRICANE IAN SET TO HIT FLORIDA’S WEST COAST LATER THIS WEEK

“This would be the storm of a lifetime for many Tampa Bay residents,” Rhome told CNN. “We’re at the action phase. We’re no longer at the ponder phase or think about it phase or hope it goes away phase. We’re at the action phase.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties of the state Saturday, with the storm expected to make landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast sometime Wednesday, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Ian is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane.

A hurricane watch, a warning indicating hurricane conditions are likely in the area, with tropical storm force conditions likely to begin within the next 48 hours, from the National Hurricane Center is in effect for the western coast of Florida, from Englewood to just north of the Tampa Bay area. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Englewood, Florida, to Flamingo, Florida. The Everglades National Park is under the tropical storm watch.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor warned residents that although they could not predict how bad the storm will be, it was time to take the storm seriously.

“The city of Tampa is prepared, and we want to make sure that all of our citizens are prepared,” Castor said, according to the outlet. “This is going to be a storm like we have never seen in the past. I want everyone to understand the seriousness of this situation. We’re not trying to instill fear. We’re just asking everyone to be responsible, to be cognitive of what this storm can bring us.”

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Evacuation orders were issued for six Florida counties as of Monday afternoon. There are currently 49 shelters open, including some accepting pets and others accommodating residents with special needs, according to Castor. Tampa residents can call Tampa’s Citizen Information Line until 8 p.m. EDT for assistance, and from 8 a.m. to midnight starting Tuesday.

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