Hurricane Ian upgraded to Category 3 as Florida braces for impact

Evacuation warnings issued up and down Florida Gulf coast.

Updated: September 27, 2022 - 1:32pm

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Hurricane Ian on Tuesday morning strengthened to a powerful Category 3 hurricane, spelling potential destruction for the Florida coast as it battered Cuba and its surrounding environs. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis had earlier issues a hurricane warning for a major stretch of the southern Florida coast, ranging from Englewood just northwest of Fort Myers to the Anclote River on the northwestern edge of Tampa. 

Miami was still projected to be spared the worst of the fallout from the storm, with the hurricane projected to make landfall as at least a Category 3 in an effective direct hit of Tampa. 

Concerns have also been raised over the hurricane's projected low speed, which could render it a major rainfall event as the slow-moving system dumps torrential downpours over small areas. 

Some models project the storm slowing to as little as four miles per hour as it nears Tampa, potentially dumping as much as 15 inches of rain on the area over the course of a single day.

The Florida governor's office said on Tuesday that 5,000 state National Guard troops had been activated and that several thousand more were coming from states nearby to assist in any needed efforts. 

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