Hurricane Ian was rapidly intensifying Monday as the massive storm hurtled toward Cuba and Florida, prompting a swath of hurricane and storm surge warnings in Florida and the first evacuations along the state’s west coast.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Ian was about 500 miles wide and more evacuations are expected as Ian draws closer to his state. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 35 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles, the hurricane center said.

“Floridians up and down the Gulf Coast should feel the impacts of this,” DeSantis said Monday at the state Emergency Operations Center. “This is a really, really big hurricane at this point.”

The storm was about 155 miles southeast of Cuba as of 5 p.m. Monday, moving north-northwest at 13 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane.

Tampa Bay was placed under a hurricane warning as of 5 p.m. ET. A storm surge warning was also in effect for much of the southwest Florida coast. 

As of Monday, Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be the among the most likely targets for their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly into a major hurricane, Category 3 or greater, as soon as late Monday, AccuWeather said. The storm could ultimately reach Category 4 status, which means sustained winds from 130 mph to 156 mph.

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Where is Ian headed?

Ian was forecast to emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday into Thursday. The storm is predicted to slow during this period, the National Hurricane Center warned in an advisory.

“This would likely prolong the storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts along the affected portions of the west coast of Florida,” the advisory says, adding that “the roughly shore-parallel track still makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what locations will experience the most severe impacts.”

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Tampa Bay prepares for Ian

Tampa mayor Jane Castor said she and local officials in her region fear “a near worst case scenario” following the latest report by the National Hurricane Center that predicts Ian may bring a storm surge of as much as 10 feet.