A storm which is currently moving through the Caribbean could potentially arrive in Florida as a hurricane early next week, state authorities announced, as late Friday night Tropical Depression 9 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Ian.
In response to the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported late Friday night that Tropical Storm Ian was 385 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving northwest at a speed of 12 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
The NHC said that Tropical Storm Ian was expected to reach the Florida Keys and South Florida by Monday and bring heavy rains” and possible flash flooding.
Earlier in the day, DeSantis signed an executive order issuing a state of emergency for 24 Florida counties which could be in the storm’s path. The order also places the Florida National Guard on standby. Furthermore, DeSantis put in a request for a federal “pre-landfall emergency declaration.”
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”
The storm isof NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, the agency said Friday.
As it moves through the Caribbean Sea, the eye of the storm was forecast to pass southwest of Jamaica Sunday, the NHC said, and near the Cayman Islands Sunday night or early Monday. It will then approach western Cuba Monday.
Jamaica and Cuba could see flash flooding and mudslides, the NHC said. It was forecast to bring 6 to 10 inches of rain to Cuba, the NHC noted in its advisory. Jamaica and the Cayman Islands could see 4 to 8 inches of rain, while Haiti and the Dominican Republic could get 2 to 4 inches.
A tropical depression is defined as a tropical cyclone with maximum winds of 38 mph or less, according to the National Weather Service. A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm when its maximum winds hit at least 39 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its maximum winds reach 74 mph.
Elsewhere,as a Category 3 storm after causing major devastation in Puerto Rico earlier this week, at one point knocking out power to the entire island and leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without access to drinking water. The storm also hit Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos Islands.