TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Florida on Saturday as Tropical Storm Ian is gathering strength over the Caribbean Sea and is expected to become a major hurricane within days as it heads toward the state.
DeSantis initially issued the emergency order for two dozen counties on Friday. But he expanded the warning to state-wide and urged residents to prepare for one Storm that could whip up great swaths of Florida.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to take their preparedness,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track any potential impact from this storm.”
President Joe Biden too state of emergency declared for the state authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance to protect life and property.
The National Hurricane Center said Ian is expected to strengthen rapidly in the coming days before moving across western Cuba and towards the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle in the middle of next week. The agency said Floridians should have hurricane plans and advised residents to do so monitor updates the developing path of the storm.
It added that Ian was expected to become a hurricane on Sunday and a major hurricane late Monday or early Tuesday. Ian had sustained peak winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) Saturday night as it churned about 230 miles (370 kilometers) south of Kingston, Jamaica.
John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami Hurricane Center, said it’s not yet clear exactly where in Florida Ian will be hit hardest. He said residents in the state should prepare for the storm, including stocking up on supplies for potential power outages.
“It’s too early to tell if it’s going to be an issue in Southeast Florida, or in Central Florida, or just the entire state,” he said. “So at this point, really, the right message for those who live in Florida is that you need to watch forecasts and prepare for potential impacts from this tropical system.”
The governor’s statement unleashes emergency response assets and activates members of the Florida National Guard, his office said. His order emphasizes that storm surges, flooding, dangerous winds and other weather conditions exist throughout the state.
Elsewhere powerful post-tropical cyclone Fiona fell ashore early Saturday in Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Canada region. The storm washed homes into the sea, ripped off roofs from others and shut down the vast majority of Canada’s two provinces, with more than 500,000 customers affected at the storm’s peak.
Fiona had turned from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late Friday, but it still had gale-force winds, bringing drenching rain and huge waves. There was no confirmation of dead or injured.
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