(Undated) -- Forecasters say Tropical Storm Ian is likely to hit Florida next week as a Category 4 hurricane. If things stay on track, the storm is likely to peak in intensity on Tuesday or Wednesday before weakening as it encounters a predicted cold front on Thursday.
All of 67 Florida counties are now under a state of emergency as it braces for Tropical Storm Ian. The National Hurricane Center says it could strengthen to a Category Four hurricane and approach the Florida Gulf Coast mid-week.
Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Rapid strengthening is forecast to begin later today. Ian is expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight and reach major hurricane strength by late Monday or Monday night before it reaches western Cuba.
On the forecast track, the center of Ian is forecast to pass well southwest of Jamaica today, and pass near or west of the Cayman Islands early Monday. Ian will then move near or over western Cuba Monday night and early Tuesday and emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
The government of Cuba has issued a Hurricane Watch for the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemisa, and a Tropical Storm Watch for the Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...* Grand Cayman
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...* Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemisa
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...* Little Cayman and Cayman Brac* Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Mata