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Hurricane Ian live updates: Expected to be Category 3 by Monday night

Hurricane Ian live updates: Expected to be Category 3 by Monday night

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Ian, the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season, is expected to rapidly intensify on Monday.

Ian is currently forecast to make landfall on the west coast of Florida or the Florida Panhandle by midday Thursday, though there is uncertainty about the hurricane's track and intensity.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a "state of emergency" for the entire state, with storm conditions "projected to constitute a major disaster."

The National Hurricane Center has advised residents of Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula to have a hurricane plan in place and to closely follow forecast updates.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Sep 26, 12:43 PM EDT
Tampa may shut down airport

In Tampa, where residents are bracing for 10 feet of dangerous storm surge, the Tampa International Airport may shut down parts of its airfield and facilities over the next day or two, airport officials announced.

The airport is in an evacuation zone, but because it’s critical infrastructure, it’s “exempt from the storm evacuation order and will stay open until a closure is necessary,” airport officials said in a statement.

It’s been 101 years since Tampa last had a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Sep 26, 11:36 AM EDT
Sarasota, Tampa-area schools close

Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa will be closed Monday through Thursday due to the storm. Instead, some schools will operate as storm shelters, the district said.

In Sarasota County, schools will be closed on Tuesday.

Sep 26, 11:34 AM EDT
First mandatory evacuation orders issued

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.

County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”

Sep 26, 10:43 AM EDT
NASA rolling Artemis rocket back off launch pad

NASA said it will roll the Artemis I rocket off the launch pad and back to the vehicle assembly building on Monday night due to the storm.

“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA said in a statement. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system.”

Sep 26, 10:08 AM EDT
Floodwater safety tips to remember

As Ian approaches, here are a few commonsense strategies to help avoid unnecessary risk from floodwaters:

--Before flooding, look up your neighborhood's flood zone and determine if your home or business is prone to flooding. Come up with an evacuation plan and make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Stock up on non-perishable foods.

--After flooding, ensure your drinking water is sanitized and wash your hands thoroughly after contact with floodwaters. Disinfect objects that have come into contact with floodwater before offering them to children or toddlers.

--Try to avoid exposure with floodwaters for long periods of time to prevent physical injury. Wear waterproof boots if you have them. Do not attempt to drive over flooded streets as it could damage the car and strand passengers.

Click here for more.

Sep 26, 10:01 AM EDT
White House closely monitoring Ian

The White House is “closely monitoring” the hurricane, a White House official told ABC News.

President Joe Biden approved Florida’s emergency assistance request this weekend “as soon as he received it,” the official said.

“He also directed his team to surge Federal assistance to the region well before landfall,” the official said. “FEMA has already deployed staff there and pre-positioned food, water, and generators.”

Biden was scheduled to travel to Florida on Monday but that trip has been postponed due to the storm.

-ABC News’ Karen Travers

Sep 26, 8:23 AM EDT
Hurricane watch issued for Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples

Ian is expected to become major Category 3 hurricane Monday night with winds of 115 mph.

As Ian passes Cuba, it’s expected to rapidly intensify, becoming a Category 4 hurricane as it moves through the Gulf. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Cuba and the Cayman Islands.

Models are split when it comes to Ian’s landfall in Florida; impacts could be as far north as Panama City and as far south as Fort Myers.

Some models forecast landfall by Wednesday afternoon between Tampa and Fort Myers, while other models predict landfall at the end of the week near Panama City or Apalachicola.

Hurricane watches have been issued in Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples.

-ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 26, 5:20 AM EDT
Storm becomes Hurricane Ian

The National Hurricane Center declared Ian a hurricane on Monday, as the storm gained strength on its way toward Florida.

"A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay,” the center said on Monday.

- ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 25, 10:19 PM EDT
NASA to reconvene on whether to take Artemis rocket off launchpad

NASA hasn’t decided whether to leave its Artemis I rocket on the launchpad as it monitors Tropical Storm Ian's path toward Florida, the agency said Sunday.

The federal space agency’s mission managers will continue discussions on Monday about the next steps as its rocket was delayed again.

On Saturday, NASA scrapped its third planned launch attempt of Artemis I because of weather concerns. Artemis I was scheduled to launch on Sept. 27.

Engineers will decide if the rocket needs to roll back off the launch pad. If they do not roll it back, the next possible launch date is Sunday, Oct. 2.

Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Florida.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

If the Oct. 2 launch doesn’t happen, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

-ABC News' Gina Sunseri, Mary Kekatos and Nadine El-Bawab

Sep 25, 10:27 PM EDT
Ian strengthens once again, forecast to become hurricane on Monday

Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph and is expected to get stronger throughout the night as atmospheric conditions become more favorable for the storm.

Ian is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday, becoming even more intense likely into Tuesday.

Ian is moving to the northwest to the Northwest at 12 mph, with the center located 160 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are expected to experience heavy rain, a heavy surge and possible flash flooding over the next 24 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Sep 25, 5:45 PM EDT
Ian weakens slightly but will regain strength overnight

Tropical Storm Ian has weakened slightly, but it is expected to not only strengthen but rapidly intensify overnight as it travels over warm waters in the Caribbean.

As of 5 p.m. ET, the storm system had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph, with the center located about 220 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Dry air ahead of the storm has delayed the strengthening trend so far. But the rapid intensification is expected to occur Monday into Tuesday as the system continues across the northwestern Caribbean and closes in on western Cuba.

Over the next 24 hours, the outer bands will impact Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, bringing rounds of heavy rain, possible flash flooding and storm surge. Later Monday and into Monday night, Ian will be closing in on western Cuba and will likely bring significant wind and storm surge impacts to the region.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Cayman and portions of western Cuba. A tropical storm watch has been issued for portions of western Cuba, as well as the lower Florida Keys, including Key West.

As of 5 p.m., the forecast track was nudged slightly eastward. Overall, the forecast guidance variability and uncertainty will remain high, and the track for where the storm will be from the middle to the end of the week will continue to shift over the next 24 to 48 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

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Artemis I launch attempt set for Tuesday, but possible hurricane could delay plans

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(CAPE CANAVERAL, FL) -- NASA said Friday it is planning its third launch attempt of Artemis I on Sept. 27 after scrubbing the initial endeavor earlier this month.

During a press conference, officials said the launch window will open at 11:37 a.m. ET, but Tropical Depression Nine could delay plans.

Currently, there is only a 20% chance of favorable weather on Tuesday as Tropical Depression Nine heads towards Florida and may make landfall as a major hurricane next week.

However, Tom Whitmeyer, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said the team is not assuming the launch will be canceled just yet.

"It's still a tropical depression number nine, it's not a named storm," Whitmeyer told reporters. "We really want to continue to try to get as much information as we can so we can make the best possible decision for the hardware."

The team said it will continue to monitor the weather and will decide on Saturday whether to continue with the Tuesday launch.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

Since then, engineers and mission managers have been running tests to make sure the rocket is ready during its next attempt.

In a press release, NASA said the Artemis team encountered a hydrogen leak during a test run on Wednesday, but the issue was addressed and resolved.

The process of tanking, which includes filling the rocket's core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was also successful.

"We had a very successful tanking test all of the tanks," John Blevins, NASA's Space Launch System chief engineer, said during the press conference. "We were able to do some things that we won't have to do again, some things that we intended to do even on launch day that were left over from previous dress rehearsals. So, it was a very successful."

If the launch is scrubbed on Sept. 27, the next launch attempt will occur on Sunday, Oct. 2.

If that Oct. 2 is also a no-go, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

Over the course of the Artemis missions, NASA plans to eventually send the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon.

The federal space agency also plans to establish a moon base as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 or 2025.

 

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