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Florida issues evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian strengthens to category 2

Hurricane Ian is expected to become even stronger, increasing to a category 4 storm as it passes through the warm Gulf of Mexico

Hurricane over Florida
Hurricane over Florida | Shutterstock/Mike Mareen

September 26, 2022 8:31pm

Updated: September 26, 2022 8:43pm

Florida authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order for Tampa residents after Hurricane Ian strengthens to a category 2 storm. Authorities are warning that similar orders could be issued for other parts of the state in the coming days.

On Monday afternoon, Hurricane Ian approached the Cayman Islands and Cuba. The major hurricane is forecasted to hit Florida by Wednesday, but not before intensifying.

The storm is expected to intensify to a category 3 or above by late on Monday as it hits Cuba. Hurricane Ian is expected to become even stronger, increasing to a category 4 storm as it passes through the warm Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is expected to hit Tampa before moving further north. Hillsborough county, which covers part of Tampa, issued a mandatory evacuation order for more than 300,000 people on Monday morning. 

“Mother nature always wins. And this storm is going to be a very impactful storm … If you can leave, just leave now. And we will take care of your personal property,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor told CNN. “You certainly could replace personal possessions. You can’t bring anyone back to life.”

“Do not wait. Time is of the essence. Act now,” County Administrator Bonnie Wise told residents.

If the storm hits Tampa directly, it would be the first Hurricane to do so in a century, according to meteorologists.

“The last major hurricane that actually made a direct hit was 100 years ago,” said Tampa-based National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis. “We tell people even if they’re lifelong Floridians like myself, this is something that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. So we definitely need to take it seriously.”

On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the entire state, asking residents to take action while remaining calm.

“This is a really, really big hurricane at this point,” DeSantis said on Monday. “The storm surge is likely to be significant given how big the storm is.”

“There’s no need to panic buy,” DeSantis added. “If you don’t normally drink a lot of water, you may not need to go out and buy 20 gallons of water right now… Just do what you need to be prepared.”