MILLIONS of Americans have been put on high alert as Hurricane Ian heads towards the US.
Winds of 125mph have been reported as the Category 3 storm passed over Cuba.
Ian is believed to be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since Irma in 2017.
It’s feared that the storm could strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane before reaching Florida.
More than 50,000 people have been evacuated in Cuba and local authorities sent in medical and emergency supplies.
Buildings have been destroyed and flooding has been reported in villages as Ian made landfall.
Around 2.5million Floridians are under orders to evacuate as Hurricane Ian appears to be churning towards the state.
Meteorologists have warned that surges could reach 10 feet if they peak at high tide.
Timothy Dudley, the Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director, has urged Floridians to take the storm “seriously”.
He said: “It’s the real deal. This is not a drill.”
Governor Ron DeSantis has revealed that 5,000 National Guardsman have been activated.
Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center have warned that there is a danger of a “life-threatening storm surge” along the west coast of Florida.
DeSantis warned: “When you have five to 10 feet of storm surge, that’s not something that you want to be a part of.”
The politician said that some Gulf Coast communities will see “catastrophic” flooding.
Residents that live in coastal areas around Tampa have been urged to evacuate.
The population in Tampa St-Petersburg has surged in recent years as it has grown by more than 365,000 people in the period from 2010 to 2020, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.
At least 40 patients have been evacuated by helicopter from HSA Florida Pasadena hospital in St. Petersburg and non-critical surgeries were also canceled, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
And, patients who were due to have critical surgery have been restricted to one guest only.
‘CATASTROPHIC’ FLOOD WARNING
Tampa General Hospital has axed non-critical surgeries for Wednesday and Thursday.
Tampa and St Petersburg could be hit directly by their first hurricane since 1921.
National Weather Center forecasters have warned that isolated tornadoes could form in rainbands.
And, they urged residents to make sure their emergency kits are stocked up.
DeSantis revealed that more than two dozen school districts have closed and highway tolls across the state have been suspended.
Travelers that are due to head to Florida have been urged to check their flights before they arrive at the airport.
Floridians were seen rushing to grocery stores stocking up on supplies while others were seen barricading windows and putting sandbags outside homes.
And, Nasa has been forced to shelter its Artemis I rocket because of the hurricane.
The NHC has warned that heavy rainfall will spread across the state in the coming days.
Hurricane Ian caused widespread flooding and power outages across Cuba.
Ian made landfall in La Coloma at around 4:30am ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters predicted that storm surges reaching 14 feet could hit the Caribbean island.
Workers in the capital Havana were seen unclogging drains as they were worried about the impact of flooding.
Local Adyz Ladron told the Associated Press: “I am very scared because my house gets completely flooded with water up to here”, as he pointed to his chest.
While, health worker Abel Rodrigues said: “I hope we escape this one because it would be the end of us. We already have so little.”
Residents were seen securing their homes before Ian hit.
Cubans were seen wearing waterproofs and plastic ponchos as they walked in downtown Havana.
And, dramatic pictures showed the sea being whipped up by the ferocious winds.