What is the path of Hurricane Ian?

How Florida Will Be Affected by Hurricane Ian

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The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest update at 5:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday that Ian is expected to slow down in the Gulf of Mexico and increase as he heads to Florida.

Mandatory evacuations of several hundred thousand people have already begun in Florida as residents brace for high winds, flash flooding and isolated tornadoes.

The storm is heading west in the state and toward the area between Fort Myers and Tampa Bay, according to the NHC.

As Ian moves north toward the Florida Keys on Wednesday, it will rain heavily on Lake Okeechobee near West Palm Beach.

"Significant flooding is expected from central Florida to southern Georgia and the South Carolina coast, with prolonged and significant flooding on rivers from central to northern Florida," the agency said.

The major cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg will be affected. No one has been directly affected by a major hurricane since 1921.

"Please take this storm seriously. It's important. This is not an exercise," Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Timothy Dudley told Tampa on Monday.

In the Tampa Bay area, a storm surge of up to 3 meters of seawater was forecast with 25 centimeters of rain and up to 38 centimeters in isolated areas, enough water to flood coastal communities.

At a news conference Monday, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis urged the public not to panic as the storm looms and thousands line up to buy bottled water, supplies and sandbags.

The governor said the state lifted tolls around Tampa Bay and deployed 5,000 National Guard troops, with another 2,000 waiting in neighboring states.

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