Potential 'major hurricane' barreling toward Florida
Storm likely to be named Ian / National Weather Service

Update: Gov. DeSantis has issued an emergency order for 24 counties in response to the tropical system threatening Florida next week. “This declaration will make available important resources and support, as well as free up funding sources for emergency protective measures. Under this emergency order, members of the Florida National Guard will be activated and on standby awaiting orders,” the governor’s office said.

The counties are Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Momoe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and St. Lucie.

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A newly formed tropical depression that formed late last night could spell trouble for Floridians early next week with a possibility of forming into a “major hurricane,” according to new forecasts from the National Hurricane Center.

Jamie Rhome, acting NHC director, provided a livestreamed social media update Friday on the looming storm, known as “Tropical Depression 9.” He urged Floridians to remain alert and calm.

“I’m a Floridian, too. So I am going to speak to you candidly,” Rhome said. “Don’t panic. We are still in the early stages of this event.”

He did stress that residents should check their hurricane preparedness over the weekend and not lose sight of the developing storm.

“Pull out all your emergency supplies. Make sure you have everything that you need on hand. Top things off if you need to. Make sure you’re ready to go. Fill up your car with fuel, get all situated for a possible, a possible event,” he stressed.

As of Friday, the forecast suggests that the center of the storm will head towards Central to South Florida, and as it makes it’s way through the Gulf could strengthen into a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will approach Jamaica Sunday as a tropical storm, and then the Cayman islands as a hurricane Monday. Then it is predicted to move on to Florida.

Category 3?

“Unfortunately, it could impact Florida as a major hurricane — Category 3 is the current forecast. But, again, we have a lot of time. This forecast can and will evolve.”

Rhome recommended that South Florida folks finish their hurricane or severe storm preparation by early next week.

“Florida Keys, South Florida, you really need to be done by sunset Monday. … For North Florida, if impacts were to spread that far north, it would be more likely to come late in the day Tuesday,” he said.

“It is important that you take this threat seriously and begin to execute your hurricane plan in a calm and orderly fashion while there is still time to get ready. Don’t panic,” Rhome said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis shared a similar tone in a tweet Friday morning .

“This morning, Invest 98L strengthened into Tropical Depression Nine. While the eventual track of #TD9 is uncertain, Floridians should remain vigilant and ensure their households are prepared for a potential impact,” DeSantis said in the tweet. He recommended Floridians follow the social media accounts of the Florida Division of Emergency Management for continued updates.

The developing storm formed shortly after the residents of U.S. territory Puerto Rico were hit by Hurricane Fiona, leaving many still without electricity, Reuters reported Friday.

“An estimated 928,000 homes and businesses were still without power in Puerto Rico on Friday morning after Hurricane Fiona hit on Sunday, causing an island-wide power outage for its roughly 3.3 million people,” according to Reuters.

“Hurricane Fiona was now passing Bermuda as it headed for Nova Scotia in Canada, classed as a major hurricane with winds of up to 125 miles per hour. The storm has killed at least eight people.”

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