A woman in Cuba wrapped in blue plastic sheet.
A resident uses plastic for protection from the rain in Batabano, Cuba. Hurricane Ian is forecasted to hit the Gulf Coast of Florida as early was Wednesday.Ramon Espinosa/AP
  • Ian was upgraded to a Category 2 storm on Monday.

  • The storm is expected to increase to a Category 3 by the time it makes its way to Florida.

  • A Category 5 storm could cause a 26 foot flood.

As Hurricane Ian heads toward the Florida Gulf Coast, forecasters are worried that it could become a Category 3 storm.

Jamie Rhome, the National Hurricane Center acting director, told CNN that the approach was a near worst-case scenario. This would be a bad approach angle with it slowing down.

The last time a storm of that strength hit Florida was a century ago, when a Category 3 storm knocked out the power and killed eight people. The population was only 200,000 at that time.

According to the 2020 US Census, there are more than three million people in the region. In a worst-case scenario, the impacts could be devastating and take years to recover from.

The region can expect a 26 foot flood, which is more than twice the depth of the 1921 Hurricane, if a storm pushes water towards the bay.

The worst-case scenario in the catastrophic plan is that the flooding would turn parts of Pinellas County into islands.

The winds of up 157 mph would destroy stoplights and wreak havoc on homes. A catastrophic plan shows that half a million buildings could be destroyed.

The death toll from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 would be the same as it is today. According to the region's planning council, a storm that strong could kill as many as 2,000 people and another 200 after it.

Economic losses would be unlike anything else. $250 billion in economic losses are estimated by the report due to structural damages.

A storm of the size and strength of Hurricane Phoenix would cause almost unthinkable damage to the area's homes, businesses, infrastructure, overall economy, and social systems that are currently in place.

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