Florida braces ahead of Hurricane Ian

TAMPA, Fla. (NBC) – The entire state of Florida is under a state of emergency as Hurricane Ian takes aim.

The storm is strengthening as it approaches Cuba and is expected to grow even stronger as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.

People in the city of Tampa are bracing for extreme wind and flooding from what could be a record-setting storm surge.

It’s been a century since Tampa took a direct hit from a hurricane.

And while the forecast track is still uncertain tonight, people from the Florida Keys to the panhandle are getting ready for what could soon be a monster storm.

Up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast, people are getting ready for Ian.

“This is a really, really big hurricane at this point,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.

As the storm bears down on the Cayman Islands and Cuba people in Florida know they only have a few hours left to get the essentials.

Lines for gas are long. Store shelves in some places are already bare as people stock up on water and food.

Ian is projected to reach Category 4 strength as it churns over the warm waters of the Gulf. The track is still uncertain.

Mandatory evacuations are already underway in low-lying parts of Tampa where people are bracing for a devastating storm surge, even if the area avoids a direct hit.

The state has pre-positioned supplies throughout the region to speed up recovery once Ian has passed.

The storm track is pivotal for this storm. If it comes a little east, it could be devastating for people in the Tampa Bay area. A little west, and cities along the panhandle will take the worst of it.

And then there’s another option. Ian could sit offshore and slow down dumping tons of rain all along Florida’s Gulf Coast for days without even making an official landfall.

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