The hurricane Ian got stronger and reached category four todayon a scale of five, on its way to the state of Florida, United States, where forecasts predict “devastating” winds after its passage through Cuba left two dead and millions of people without electricity.
At 05:00 (09:00 GMT), an evacuation order was issued for a dozen Florida coastal counties, with a voluntary evacuation recommendation for several other locations, according to the US emergency services.
Almost simultaneously, the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that “Ian has strengthened to reach extremely dangerous category four.”
According to the most recent data from the US Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft, maximum sustained winds increased to 220 kilometers per hour.
The storm is forecast to make landfall this morning and move across Florida before returning to sea along the west coast of this southern US state by the end of Thursday.
In this regard, the NHC warned that “a life-threatening storm surge is expected on the western coast of Florida and in the lower Florida Keys”, with “devastating” winds in the center of the hurricane.
“Catastrophic flooding is expected in several areas of central Florida,” the report quoted the AFP news agency added.
Last Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in dozens of counties and last night warned those in the areas that are projected to be the most affected that “time to evacuate is running out.”
“It is necessary to evacuate now. Significant impacts from the storm are going to start to be felt relatively soon,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell, expressed himself in the same sense.
“If local authorities tell people to evacuate, please listen to them. The decision they make can make the difference between life and death,” he added.
For Chelsea Thompson, 30, anxiety mounted as she helped her parents barricade her home, located in the mandatory evacuation zone.
“As it gets closer, obviously like the unknown, the anxiety goes up,” he said.
The Pentagon has mobilized 3,200 National Guardsmen and another 1,800 troops are on the way.
On the other hand, the authorities of several municipalities distributed bags of sand to help the inhabitants to protect their houses.
Yesterday, as it passed through Cuba, the hurricane reached category 3 and left the island plunged into darkness after causing a widespread blackout and two deaths in the province of Pinar del Río.
“There is no electricity service in any part of the country at the moment,” said Lázaro Guerra, technical director of the state-owned Electric Union, on Tuesday night.
The hurricane made landfall at dawn in the province of Pinar del Río, western Cuba. There the state media reported two deaths.
On the way to San Juan y Martínez, 190 kilometers from Havana, one of the hardest hit places and an area of tobacco plantations in Pinar del Río, flooded crops, uprooted trees and cables thrown everywhere were seen, AFP journalists confirmed. .
NB with information from Télam agency.