Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining me on Federica Whitfield, and welcome to a new 11:00 a.m. Estate of the newsroom. All right, florida under a state of emergency this hour as Tropical Storm Ian gains strength. Ian is expected to be become a hurricane today and may peak as a category four storm before weakening and making a direct hit on Florida as early as Wednesday. We’re expecting an update from Governor Rhonda Santas minutes from now. CNN’s Alison Chinchar is in the weather center. CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez is traveling with the President in Wilmington, Delaware, who just announced a federal emergency for the state. So let’s begin with you, Allison, in the weather center. You just got an update from the National Hurricane Center and tell us what you’re learning.
Yeah, we’ve got a few changes, so let’s take a look at the breakdown. What we know right now is the sustained winds are at 50 mph, gusting up to 65. That forward movement has increased ever so slightly now up to 14 northwest. Now, another place where we’ve seen some of those changes is actually where we’re talking about the watches and warnings. I’ll have Haley push this forward so we can show you some of those watches and warnings. Here where you see this pink color, that hurricane watch. We’re now starting to see some of those begin to transition into hurricane warnings. We do still have the one for the Grand Cayman Island, but we’re now starting to see more of them added along Cuba’s coastline as well. And the reason for that is the intensification. We anticipate the storm to get stronger, which means that storm surge along that southern coast of Cuba is expected to be nine to 14ft. That is very significant storm surge for that area we talked about. The reason for that is more strengthening will occur. We anticipate this will become a category one hurricane later today or by tonight. Then it will strengthen even further as it makes its way across Cuba, potentially reaching that major hurricane strength at that point, then starting to make more of that right hand turn back towards Florida as it makes its way through the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
Now, here’s the ultimate question everyone wants to know where is it going and when is it going to make landfall? And the part of the problem here is the models are very split on both of those things. For example, the American model is calling for landfall right around Panama City Friday morning. But the European model is much faster, trying to make landfall Wednesday evening and much farther south, likely between Tampa and Fort Myers. So that uncertainty is huge with this particular storm. Now, again, when we talk about some of the impacts, rainfall is certainly going to be one of the most significant ones with this storm. In addition to the winds, we know that somewhere is likely to pick up at least a foot of rain. But again, it depends on where the storm goes, and that will ultimately determine where the target point is for that heavy rain. One thing we do know, though, Fred, is that somewhere we are going to have that target point over Florida. So beginning Tuesday and Wednesday, you are going to start to see that flash flood threat begin to increase across Florida, and hopefully we can get that cone of uncertainty narrowed down considerably in the next 48 hours.
All right, Alison, thank you so much. We look forward to the next update. Priscilla, to you. So how might this storm impact the President’s plan?
Biden was expected to go to Florida this week to deliver remarks on Social Security and healthcare, as well as attend a DNC rally. Those plans are now canceled because of the storm. Now, as you mentioned earlier, biden issued an emergency declaration for the state of Florida as the storm approaches. As Allison mentioned, this is a storm that is intensifying over the next couple of days. The White House getting ahead of it with this declaration, which will authorize hima to coordinate all disaster relief efforts as well as provide additional assistance. This is a storm that the White House has been monitoring for some time and is now getting ahead of and freeing up those federal resources for when it makes landfall.
Fred. All right.
Chinchart. Thanks to both of you. I appreciate it. All right, let’s bring in now FEMA’s, assistant Administrator for Response and recovery and the bank. And so good to see you. So how are you all trying to get ahead of this storm?
Thank you, Fredrika, and thank you so much for having me on today. As you can see behind me, we are fully activated in preparation for the storm. And thanks to President Biden’s swift approval of the emergency declaration that was requested by Florida, we’re now quickly moving in not only specialized teams to support our efforts, but also commodities, things like food and water.
So what should people across Florida be doing right now? Because as you heard our Alison Chinchar, when we talk about a possible hit within the Gulf side of Florida, it could be anywhere between Tampa or Saving in Panama City.
That’s right. That forecast will continue to firm up over time, but the message really is prepare now. Know your evacuation routes. If you’re in an evacuation zone, be prepared to think not only about your family, but your pets. Make sure you have your preparedness kit with you to support at least three days. Things like food, water, battery, chargers for your phone, even things like your insurance documents. Take pictures of them so you have them with you. So if there is damage when you return to your home, you’re prepared to get those resources you need post storm. The really big thing here, too, there’s a focus on folks that are medically dependent. Wanted to make sure that we get the message out that if you are medically dependent please go to the Florida Division of Emergency Management website and register. If you have medical needs that require electricity, if you have medications you will need post storm that is very important. The state is leaning forward and we’re leaning with them to make sure that we can take care of the most vulnerable should the storm hit your community.
We were just looking at pictures as you were talking of people putting bottles of water in their vehicle so they’re stocking up as best they can but already in lots of places there are no more bottles of water or even plywood for people to make their preparation. So what if anything can you do because of some shortages in some areas.
Certainly it’s critically important not only to prepare and execute your plan but to check on each other, right? If you don’t have the supplies you need, work with your family, friends, your networks to ensure that you’re taking care of each other. Not only to support those physical needs you may have but also any emotional needs, right? These are communities that have been impacted by storms in the past and this is the time for action. Other resources to think about are ready gov that will also tell you where shelters are in your area. They will have food and water and other commodities. So if your needs exist and you need to fulfill those check that app out and make sure you can get what you need.
Here we are at the end of September. It has been a relatively slow start to what was forecast to be an above average hurricane season. So are you concerned about complacency? With just about two months left in this Atlantic hurricane season we expect rapid.
Intensification with this storm and really we’re only partly through the hurricane season. We want to stress to please listen to your local officials and take those evacuation orders seriously. This could be a very serious storm surge, rainfall and wind incident we’re expecting a major hurricane. So my message is please take this seriously and please listen to your local officials.