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As Hurricane Ian nears Florida, locals are frantically preparing for potentially fatal tide waves, floods, and winds.

Hurricane Ian: The storm, which has already devastated western Cuba, is predicted to get stronger before it hits Florida. One of the US regions most at risk for severe floods is the Tampa Bay area, which is home to more than three million people. The area may experience its first direct major hurricane strike since 1921.

“It’s been around 100 years since Tampa had a direct hit. They’ve just been lucky for a long time,” said Erik Salna, associate director of the International Hurricane Research Center.

A catastrophic tidal surge is more likely in areas with a big population, rising sea levels, and low elevation. According to Mr. Salna, all three are present in the Tampa area.

If hit directly, the region could be “unrecognisable” in the next couple of days, he said. “The potential is there.”

Hurricane Ian: Catastrophic flooding fear in Florida

Hurricane Ian, a category three storm with winds of up to 195 km/h (120 mph), is expected to strengthen as it approaches Florida from the north and crosses the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As Ian approaches the coast, the National Weather Service reported seeing tornadoes in southern Florida. Up to 140 mph winds are possible before it reaches shore. As it approaches Florida, Hurricane Ian is anticipated to slow down, thereby extending the storm’s effects and posing a threat of up to 20 inches (1.6 feet) of rain in certain regions.

And if it does impact Tampa, it will do it in one of the most populous regions in the state.

With people and buildings strewn along the primarily low-lying beach, development has exploded along the Tampa region’s almost 700 miles (1,1200 km) of coastline over the past 50 years.

“We have come closer to the shore and the water. This is a trainwreck of human nature in its own right “said Richard Olson, director of Florida International University’s extreme events institute (FIU).

In a number of coastal towns and cities, more than 2.5 million Floridians have started to evacuate. In some neighborhoods, police are pleading with residents to leave door to door.

On Tuesday, Tampa Bay Mayor Jane Castor said that the city would likewise impose a curfew for its surviving citizens.

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