A storm currently sweeping through the Caribbean could potentially arrive in Florida as a hurricane early next week, state authorities announced as Tropical Depression 9 upgraded to Tropical Storm Ian late Friday night.
In response to the storm, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported late Friday night Tropical Storm Ian was 585 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving northwest at 20 mph. It had a maximum sustained wind of 40 mph.
The NHC said Tropical Storm Ian was expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida on Monday, causing heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding.
Earlier in the day, DeSantis signed an executive order to declare a state of emergency for 24 Florida counties that could be in the storm’s path. The order also puts the Florida National Guard on standby. In addition, DeSantis has filed for a federal “pre-landfall emergency Declaration.”
“This storm has the potential to become a major hurricane and we encourage all Florida residents to prepare,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to monitor the potential impact 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 Sunday evening 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 predicted to bring 6 to 10 inches of rain to Cuba, the NHC noted in its advisory. Jamaica and the Cayman Islands can get 4 to 8 inches of rain, while Haiti and the Dominican Republic can 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 maximum winds reach at least 39 mph. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when maximum winds reach 74 mph.
Elsewhere,as a Category 3 storm after wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico earlier this week, at one point cutting 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.