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Italia becomes a hurricane heading toward the west coast of Florida

Italia becomes a hurricane heading toward the west coast of Florida

Italia became a hurricane shortly after entering the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

“It is expected to rapidly intensify into a very dangerous major hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday,” the NHC said in a bulletin on Monday.

Hurricane Italia was 85 miles north of Cuba early Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving northward at 14 mph.

“It is expected to reach the Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday and approach the Carolinas coast on Thursday.”

Italia became a tropical storm over the weekend in the western Caribbean Sea and its eye moved north between the Yucatán Peninsula and western Cuba, areas affected by heavy rain and winds.

Florida prepares for Italia’s arrival as a major hurricane

Florida residents began preparing for the arrival early Wednesday

Some residents were seen carrying sandbags, while others began evacuating their homes in low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast.

“You need to finish your preparation for #TropicalStormIdalia tonight and Tuesday morning,” wrote the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay at X on Twitter Monday.

In Florida, they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Italia.

debt: Chris O’Meara/AP

While preparations were underway in Florida, Italia hit Cuba with heavy rains, particularly in the western part of the island. The tobacco-producing province of Pinar del Rio is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian nearly a year ago..

Provincial authorities declared a state of alert and residents were evacuated to the homes of friends and relatives, while the Cuyaguateje River was monitored for flood risk. Cuba received 4 inches of rain on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Italia is expected to begin battering Florida late Tuesday with hurricane-force winds, and Italia is expected to make landfall on the coast on Wednesday.

It is the first storm to hit Florida this hurricane season and is a major blow to the state, which is dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian.

“I’ve got to prepare for these things, hope for the best and prepare for the worst, as they say, you know, sneak in,” said Derek Hughes, who was waiting with sandbags loaded into his car at a city park in Tampa. .

DeSantis declares state of emergency in 46 counties before Italy arrives

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 46 counties, stretching across the northern half of the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast. The state has mobilized 1,100 National Guardsmen and 12 aircraft for rescue and relief operations.

Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport said they would be closed Tuesday. SunRail passenger train service in Orlando will end.

DeSantis warned of “significant impact” to the state Large areas of Florida’s west coast are at risk of storm surge and flooding.

Out of 21 districts, some in eight districts have been served with eviction notices with mandatory orders. Many of the notices were sent to residents of coastal and low-lying areas, those living in structures such as mobile and manufactured homes, RVs and boats, and people who may be affected by power outages.

Pasco and Levy counties, located north of Tampa, ordered mandatory evacuations for some residents. In Levy County, Cedar Key residents should evacuate Tuesday night because storm surge could make bridges impassable, officials said.

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“Once the storm hits, help may not be able to reach you.” It is informed in the district public notification.

Several school districts along the Gulf Coast announced they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Several colleges and universities announced they would close their campuses Tuesday, including the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“We were told that our dorm building, in particular, was at risk of flooding,” said Erin Amis, a student at Eckert College in St. Petersburg.

MacDill Air Force Base, located in Tampa Bay, is preparing to evacuate several aircraft and began a mandatory evacuation Monday morning for personnel living in local counties, the Air Force said in a statement.

Grace Cruz, a Tampa resident who has lived in the state for more than 40 years, tossed out patio furniture, filled her car with gas and loaded sandbags. He worried about the tens of thousands of new Floridians who had never experienced a hurricane before, and he had some advice for them.

“If you plan to leave, you start early because of the traffic,” Cruz said. “Seriously. It’s horrible.”

As Gulf Coast residents packed their cars or pulled out generators in case of power outages, state officials warned of possible fuel contamination at dozens of gas stations.

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