Florida under watches and warnings as Hurricane Ian is expected to rapidly intensify
Tropical storm Ian is forecast to "rapidly intensify" over the weekend and become a major hurricane as it moves toward Florida, according to the US National Hurricane Center. - GREGG NEWTON/Getty Images North America/TNS

MIAMI — A large swath of Florida’s Gulf Coast is under hurricane and storm surge watches Monday from Hurricane Ian, which whipped up overnight and is expected to turn into a major storm as it heads toward a potential first landfall in western Cuba. The latest forecast at 2 p.m. Eastern time from the National Hurricane Center showed Hurricane Ian crossing north of Tampa Bay as a powerful Category 3 storm and making landfall in the Big Bend as a Category 1 or 2 storm — pushing storm surge that could reach as high as 10 feet in spots. But regardless of any future small shifts in the track, which ...