Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 storm and could hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane as early as Wednesday.
RELATED: Hurricane Ian nears Florida, DeSantis declares state of emergency
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba early Tuesday after it strengthened to a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds. The storm was forecast to strengthen further over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before reaching Florida as early as Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with top winds of 140 mph (225 km/h).
The storm made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region. “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane-force winds, also life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall,” hurricane center senior specialist Daniel Brown told The Associated Press.
The strengthening storm prompted a swath of hurricane and storm surge warnings in Florida and the first evacuations along the state's west coast. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Ian was about 500 miles wide and more evacuations are expected as Ian draws closer to his state. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 35 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles, the hurricane center said Monday.
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