Hurricane Ian moved near the Cayman Islands and closer to western Cuba early today on a track to hit Florida as a major hurricane this week.
Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly and hit Cuba as a major hurricane late Monday, and then become an even stronger Category 4 hurricane over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before striking the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and planned evacuations today as Ian gained strength on approach to Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. Cuba also was shutting down its train system ahead of the worst weather.
“Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane force winds, also life threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall,” United States National Hurricane Center senior specialist Daniel Brown told The Associated Press early Monday.
At 8:00 am EDT on Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 14 mph (22 kph), about 90 miles (145 kilometres) west-southwest of Grand Cayman, sustaining top winds of 75 mph (120 kph).