A storm currently moving through the Caribbean could potentially reach Florida as a hurricane early next week, state officials said, as Tropical Depression 9 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Ian late Friday night.
In response to the storm, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) mentionted Late Friday night, Tropical Storm Ian was located 385 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving northwest at 12 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
The NHC said Tropical Storm Ian is expected to reach the Florida Keys and South Florida by Monday and bring heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding.
Earlier in the day, DeSantis signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 24 Florida counties that may be in the storm’s path. The order also puts the Florida National Guard on standby. In addition, DeSantis filed 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 prepare,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to monitor the 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 on Sunday, the NHC said, and near the Cayman Islands on Sunday night or early Monday. It will then approach western Cuba on Monday.
Jamaica and Cuba may see flash floods 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 reach at least 39 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its maximum winds reach 74 mph.
Somewhere else,as a Category 3 storm after wreaking havoc 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 the Turks and Caicos Islands.