The West Coast of Florida is on alert as the Category 3 storm gathers strength and heads their way….
Hurricane Ian was slamming western Cuba with high winds and heavy rain Tuesday morning on its way to western Florida, where officials are pleading with people to flee the coast ahead of what could be devastating storm surge in the Tampa region and flooding rains.
Ian, a Category 3 storm packing sustained winds of 125 mph, was poised to enter the Gulf of Mexico mid-morning Tuesday after crossing Cuba’s tobacco-rich Pinar del Rio province, where it made landfall around 4:30 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said. Life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding and mudslides are possible there, forecasters said.
Ian appears headed to western Florida next, where rains and tropical storm-strength winds will begin Tuesday, with the system poised to deliver life-threatening storm surge– ocean water pushed onto land – and flooding rain Wednesday into Thursday morning as it first crawls along off the coast and then heads inland.
The storm could make landfall near or south of the Tampa Bay area late Wednesday or early Thursday as at least a Category 3 hurricane – sustained winds of at least 111 mph – and officials are warning: Leave the coast now…..