"A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay,” the Hurricane Center announced.
Ian is expected to be a Category 3 hurricane by Monday night and strengthen into a Category 4 as it approaches Florida.
Florida residents have been warned to prepare as Ian continues to approach, CNN reports.
The hurricane, which initially developed as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea on Friday (September 23), is expected to reach the Florida Panhandle by Thursday (September 26), although there are varying reports on its track and intensity, ABC News reports.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava urged residents to stock up on food and water, as well as check their storm surge planning zone, to prepare.
"We're very hopeful that even with a major rain event, we'll be able to manage it," she said via CNN. "We're on standby. We have extra pumps, and we've worked with the South Florida Water Management District to lower canal levels."
On Saturday (September 24), Governor Ron DeSantis extended a state of emergency, which was initially declared on Friday (September 23), citing "foregoing conditions, which are projected to constitute a major disaster."
"The Florida Division of Emergency Management, working together with the National Hurricane Center to evaluate weather predictions, has determined there is a continuing risk of dangerous storm surge, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, strong winds, hazardous seas, and isolated tornadic activity for Florida's Peninsula and portions of the Florida Big Bend, North Florida, and Northeast Florida," the order states.
Varying forecast models showed that Ian was expected to make landfall on Florida's coast between Wednesday (September 28) afternoon and early Friday (September 30) morning, however, tropical storm-force winds may be present in southwest Florida as early as Tuesday (September 27).
"Ian is likely to be near major hurricane intensity when it approaches western Cuba," the National Hurricane Center said via CNN. "Since Ian is not expected to remain over Cuba long, little weakening is expected due to that land interaction."
Ian will become the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Michael in 2018.