Tropical storm-force winds were expected across the southern peninsula late Tuesday, reaching hurricane-force Wednesday when the eye was predicted to make landfall. With tropical storm-force winds extending 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Ians center, damage was expected across a wide area of Florida.

Ians forward movement was expected to slow over the Gulf, enabling the hurricane to grow wider and stronger. The hurricane warning expanded Tuesday to cover roughly 220 miles (350 kilometers) of Floridas west coast. The area includes Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St. Petersburg, which could get their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

As the storms center moved into the Gulf, scenes of destruction emerged in Cubas world-famous tobacco belt. The owner of the premier Finca Robaina cigar producer posted photos on social media of wood-and-thatch roofs smashed to the ground, greenhouses in rubble and wagons overturned.


It was apocalyptic, a real disaster, wrote Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the operations founder.

Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings and toppled trees. No deaths were reported.

At the White House, President Joe Biden said his administration was sending hundreds of Federal Emergency Management Agency employees to Florida and sought to assure mayors in the storms path that Washington will meet their needs. He urged residents to heed to local officials orders.

Your safety is more important than anything, he said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden spoke later Tuesday evening with DeSantis on federal steps to help Florida prepare for the storm and both committed to close coordination.