UPDATE: Hurricane Ian Forms as Authorities in Florida Issue First Evacuation Directives

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On Monday, Tropical Storm Ian intensified into Hurricane Ian, and the storm system only continues to strengthen as it maintains its track northward toward Florida, prompting the beginning of the first evacuations in the state.

There is still much uncertainty about Ian’s path, but the latest data suggests the center of the storm will stay to the west of the state and make landfall sometime on Friday of this week.

Hurricane Ian tracks toward Tampa Bay, prompting evacuations, closures

The first of the state of Florida’s evacuation orders came from Hillsborough County. According to FOX 13 Tampa Bay, there are two zones affected by the evacuation orders. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for residents living in Zone A, while emergency officials are recommending evacuation for residents living in Zone B.

Hillsborough County, Florida, is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida and is home to more than 1.5 million residents. The city of Tampa is the largest city in the county.

Map of Florida highlighting Hillsborough County

Accuweather posted this update shortly after 2:00 p.m. EST on Monday:

As of 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Ian had sustained winds of up to 85 mph and was moving north-northwest at 13 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Ian was located about 195 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba and 325 miles south-southwest of Key West, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 35 miles from the storm’s center, while tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 115 miles.

Hurricane Ian is projected to continue to rapidly intensify in the Gulf of Mexico, ultimately becoming at Category 4 hurricane as it continues northward on its path toward the western coast of the Sunshine State.

Gov. DeSantis Wants a Florida State Guard. Here's How They Work in Other States – NBC 6 South Florida
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On Sunday, Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians across the state to ready themselves and their families for worst-case scenarios, explaining that Hurricane Ian could impact the entire state. DeSantis noted the need for food, water, batteries, medications, fuel, and the like. DeSantis has activated 2,500 National Guardsmen, but he noted that he can activate more guardsmen if the need arises.

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