Storm Ian turns into a hurricane and heads for Cuba and Florida

Cristiana Mesquita, The Associated Press

HAVANA — Tropical Storm Ian has turned into a hurricane, forecasters say. It is approaching Cuba on a trajectory which should take it to Florida in the coming days.

Ian was expected to rapidly intensify and become a major hurricane by Monday evening.

Cuban authorities suspended classes in Pinar del Río province and said they would begin evacuations on Monday as Ian needed to get stronger before reaching the western part of the island.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Río and Artemisa. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Ian is expected to reach far western Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday, striking near the country’s most famous tobacco fields. It could become a major hurricane before likely arriving in Florida around the middle of the week, possibly on the state’s west coast or the Panhandle.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 20 km/h, about 150 kilometers southwest of Grand Cayman, according to the NHC. It had maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and urged residents to prepare for the storm that could hit the state with heavy rain, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters still don’t know exactly where Ian could make landfall.

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