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Hurricane Ian's latest path: Forecast shows landfall in Tampa Bay area

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Ian strengthened to a Category 3 storm on Tuesday as it made landfall in Cuba.

Next, Ian heads to Florida. Landfall is expected in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday night into early Thursday morning as a Category 3 hurricane, though track, timing and intensity could still change.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Sep 27, 9:41 AM EDT
Tornado watches issued in South Florida

Tornado watches have been issued in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples and Key West as Hurricane Ian approaches.

The watches are in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Sep 27, 8:25 AM EDT
Latest forecast shows landfall in Tampa Bay area

The forecast has shifted significantly east, now with landfall expected in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday night into early Thursday morning as a Category 3 hurricane.

This would mark Tampa Bay’s first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

Slow-moving Ian is expected to drop more than 15 inches of rain from Tampa to Orlando.

Major flooding is possible in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Sep 27, 5:00 AM EDT
Hurricane Ian makes landfall after strengthening to major storm

Hurricane Ian made landfall over western Cuba early on Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

“Satellite and radar data indicate that the center of Ian has made landfall just southwest of the town of La Coloma in the Pinar Del Rio Province of Cuba at 4:30 a.m.,” the center said.

Ian’s winds at landfall were estimated at a maximum of 125 mph, making the storm a Category 3 hurricane.

Sep 26, 11:35 PM EDT
Ian strengthens as winds grow to 105 mph

Hurricane Ian continued to intensify Monday night, with maximum sustained winds now at 105 mph.

The hurricane is about 105 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, which is expected to see significant wind and storm surge impacts soon.

The storm is expected to become a major hurricane overnight or Tuesday morning.

Sep 26, 9:47 PM EDT
Tampa International Airport to close as Ian approaches

Tampa International Airport will stop all operations starting 5 p.m. Tuesday to secure its airfield and terminals ahead of Hurricane Ian's expected landfall later this week.

Sep 26, 7:14 PM EDT
HHS secretary declares public health emergency for Florida

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency for the state of Florida.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made the declaration Monday to address the possible health impacts for Florida residents once Hurricane Ian nears the state.

"We will do all we can to assist Florida officials with responding to the health impacts of Hurricane Ian," Becerra said in a statement. "We are working closely with state, local, and tribal health authorities, as well as our federal partners, and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support."

HHS has pre-positioned two 15-person health and medical task force teams from its National Disaster Medical System, as well as a 13-person incident management team and two pharmacists to assist with the response in Florida.

"These teams are highly trained and ready to respond if, when, and where they may be needed following the storm," HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday. That declaration was approved by President Joe Biden on Sunday.

Sep 26, 6:59 PM EDT
Hurricane warning issued for Tampa Bay area

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for the Tampa Bay area just after its 5 p.m. advisory for Hurricane Ian.

The hurricane, currently a Category 2, is forecast to strengthen before it slows down as it approaches land. It is then expected to hover off the coast of Tampa from Wednesday into Thursday before making landfall.

A hurricane watch has also been issued for Big Bend, Florida, near the panhandle, and tropical storm warnings are in effect for much of southwest Florida.

Tropical storm watches are in effect for Orlando toward the northeast portion of the state, from Fort Pierce to Jacksonville.

-ABC News' Melissa Griffin

Sep 26, 6:21 PM EDT
Florida utility company to use remote grid technology to restore power during the storm

The emergency response from Florida Power & Light is “well underway” as Hurricane Ian approaches, the utility company announced Monday.

FP&L has mobilized 13,000 workers, as well as supplies, to ensure the response is conducted as safely and quickly as possible after the storm hits, according to a press release.

As the hurricane begins to bear down on the region, FP&L will use remote grid technology to restore power remotely during the storm, as long as it is safe to do so, the company said. After the storm passes and winds drop below 35 mph, FP&L will continue restoration and conduct damage assessments with field crews.

The utility company also urged customers to make preparations and take safety precautions.

"As this storm approaches Florida, we know our customers are counting on us and we are determined to meet this challenge," said Eric Silagy, chairman and CEO of FP&L in a statement. "We are mobilizing and pre-positioning our restoration workforce, so these brave men and women can quickly start working as soon as it is safe to do so."

-ABC News' Matt Foster

Sep 26, 3:58 PM EDT
Florida State University cancels classes

Florida State University has canceled classes Tuesday through Friday as Hurricane Ian approaches.

"The cancellation of classes on Tuesday is to allow students to travel safely out of the area if they so choose," the university said. "Students who choose to stay in Tallahassee will be advised via the FSU Alert system to follow a 'shelter in place' protocol during the storm."

Sep 26, 3:38 PM EDT
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to close

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to the mandatory evacuation orders in Pinellas County. The airport will stay closed until the evacuation order is lifted.

Sep 26, 2:55 PM EDT
1st mandatory evacuation orders issued

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.

County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”

Some residents of Sarasota County and Manatee County are also under mandatory evacuation orders.

-ABC News’ Alex Faul

Sep 26, 2:01 PM EDT
7,000 National Guardsmen deployed to help

Five-thousand members of the Florida National Guard have been activated to help during Hurricane Ian. Another 2,000 guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also coming to help, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Nearly 300 ambulances and support vehicles are being deployed to areas bracing for Ian’s landfall, DeSantis said.

-ABC News’ Alex Faul

Sep 26, 12:43 PM EDT
Tampa may shut down airport

In Tampa, where residents are bracing for 10 feet of dangerous storm surge, the Tampa International Airport may shut down parts of its airfield and facilities over the next day or two, airport officials announced.

The airport is in an evacuation zone, but because it’s critical infrastructure, it’s “exempt from the storm evacuation order and will stay open until a closure is necessary,” airport officials said in a statement.

It’s been 101 years since Tampa last had a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Sep 26, 11:36 AM EDT
Sarasota, Tampa-area schools close

Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa will be closed Monday through Thursday due to the storm. Instead, some schools will operate as storm shelters, the district said.

In Sarasota County, schools will be closed on Tuesday.

Sep 26, 11:34 AM EDT
First mandatory evacuation orders issued

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.

County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”

Sep 26, 10:43 AM EDT
NASA rolling Artemis rocket back off launch pad

NASA said it will roll the Artemis I rocket off the launch pad and back to the vehicle assembly building on Monday night due to the storm.

“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA said in a statement. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system.”

Sep 26, 10:08 AM EDT
Floodwater safety tips to remember

As Ian approaches, here are a few commonsense strategies to help avoid unnecessary risk from floodwaters:

--Before flooding, look up your neighborhood's flood zone and determine if your home or business is prone to flooding. Come up with an evacuation plan and make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Stock up on non-perishable foods.

--After flooding, ensure your drinking water is sanitized and wash your hands thoroughly after contact with floodwaters. Disinfect objects that have come into contact with floodwater before offering them to children or toddlers.

--Try to avoid exposure with floodwaters for long periods of time to prevent physical injury. Wear waterproof boots if you have them. Do not attempt to drive over flooded streets as it could damage the car and strand passengers.

Click here for more.

Sep 26, 10:01 AM EDT
White House closely monitoring Ian

The White House is “closely monitoring” the hurricane, a White House official told ABC News.

President Joe Biden approved Florida’s emergency assistance request this weekend “as soon as he received it,” the official said.

“He also directed his team to surge Federal assistance to the region well before landfall,” the official said. “FEMA has already deployed staff there and pre-positioned food, water, and generators.”

Biden was scheduled to travel to Florida on Monday but that trip has been postponed due to the storm.

-ABC News’ Karen Travers

Sep 26, 8:23 AM EDT
Hurricane watch issued for Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples

Ian is expected to become major Category 3 hurricane Monday night with winds of 115 mph.

As Ian passes Cuba, it’s expected to rapidly intensify, becoming a Category 4 hurricane as it moves through the Gulf. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Cuba and the Cayman Islands.

Models are split when it comes to Ian’s landfall in Florida; impacts could be as far north as Panama City and as far south as Fort Myers.

Some models forecast landfall by Wednesday afternoon between Tampa and Fort Myers, while other models predict landfall at the end of the week near Panama City or Apalachicola.

Hurricane watches have been issued in Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples.

-ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 26, 5:20 AM EDT
Storm becomes Hurricane Ian

The National Hurricane Center declared Ian a hurricane on Monday, as the storm gained strength on its way toward Florida.

"A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay,” the center said on Monday.

- ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 25, 10:19 PM EDT
NASA to reconvene on whether to take Artemis rocket off launchpad

NASA hasn’t decided whether to leave its Artemis I rocket on the launchpad as it monitors Tropical Storm Ian's path toward Florida, the agency said Sunday.

The federal space agency’s mission managers will continue discussions on Monday about the next steps as its rocket was delayed again.

On Saturday, NASA scrapped its third planned launch attempt of Artemis I because of weather concerns. Artemis I was scheduled to launch on Sept. 27.

Engineers will decide if the rocket needs to roll back off the launch pad. If they do not roll it back, the next possible launch date is Sunday, Oct. 2.

Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Florida.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

If the Oct. 2 launch doesn’t happen, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

-ABC News' Gina Sunseri, Mary Kekatos and Nadine El-Bawab

Sep 25, 10:27 PM EDT
Ian strengthens once again, forecast to become hurricane on Monday

Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph and is expected to get stronger throughout the night as atmospheric conditions become more favorable for the storm.

Ian is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday, becoming even more intense likely into Tuesday.

Ian is moving to the northwest to the Northwest at 12 mph, with the center located 160 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are expected to experience heavy rain, a heavy surge and possible flash flooding over the next 24 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Sep 25, 5:45 PM EDT
Ian weakens slightly but will regain strength overnight

Tropical Storm Ian has weakened slightly, but it is expected to not only strengthen but rapidly intensify overnight as it travels over warm waters in the Caribbean.

As of 5 p.m. ET, the storm system had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph, with the center located about 220 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Dry air ahead of the storm has delayed the strengthening trend so far. But the rapid intensification is expected to occur Monday into Tuesday as the system continues across the northwestern Caribbean and closes in on western Cuba.

Over the next 24 hours, the outer bands will impact Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, bringing rounds of heavy rain, possible flash flooding and storm surge. Later Monday and into Monday night, Ian will be closing in on western Cuba and will likely bring significant wind and storm surge impacts to the region.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Cayman and portions of western Cuba. A tropical storm watch has been issued for portions of western Cuba, as well as the lower Florida Keys, including Key West.

As of 5 p.m., the forecast track was nudged slightly eastward. Overall, the forecast guidance variability and uncertainty will remain high, and the track for where the storm will be from the middle to the end of the week will continue to shift over the next 24 to 48 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Uvalde families plead with legislators for gun reform in emotional testimony

Kate Holland for ABC News

(UVALDE, Texas) -- Two Texas legislators held a listening session Monday to hear from Robb Elementary School victims' families, who continue to voice how unheard they feel by their representatives as they plead for gun control statewide and nationally.

Their advocacy was spurred by the school shooting that took place on May 24, when 19 children and two teachers were killed.

Parents spoke about wanting commonsense gun legislation, accountability for police officers and transparency from local officials, as well as voiced their frustrations with overly complex and arduous application processes for relief funds.

"The fact that I have to sit here and tell y'all, the state and federal government, how to do your job, is evidence enough of the massive failure we've experienced," Kimberly Rubio, mother of 10-year-old victim Lexi Rubio, told the legislators.

"This was not the first school shooting and will not be the last until we federally ban these weapons," Rubio said. "You can't help us. All we want is a federal ban on assault weapons."

She also lamented about the process to receive donation funds, referencing the 20-page application document she said was sent by the National Compassion Fund only days after the shooting.

"We couldn't even get out of bed. Four months later, I can't even read a chapter of a book. When we finally filled it out, they sent it back with so many documents of things they needed," Rubio told the legislators. "You know who I am, you know I lost my daughter. It should be easier."

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told ABC News she asked families to testify so that she could share the recording with fellow lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and said that after the meeting, she plans to find ways to make the federal compensation process more expeditious for families, which she recognized was a glaring issue.

When asked if she will share the footage directly with Republican senators who have come out against H.R. 1808, the upcoming bill in the Senate that proposes federally banning assault weapons -- which many Uvalde families have asked for -- she told ABC News, "Well, it is available and we'll go back to Washington and determine how it can be best given."

Brett Cross, 10-year-old victim Uziyah Garcia's uncle and legal guardian, asked the legislators, "How many more damn kids need to die before the government does something?"

He, like others, said he feels Texas Gov. Greg Abbott doesn't care.

"I spoke to Gov. Abbott when I asked him to call a special session to raise the minimum age to 21. He said that wouldn't have made a difference," Cross said tearfully, reminding the gathering that the shooter was only 18 years old at the time of the massacre.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, agreed.

"This community was not only failed on that day at Robb Elementary, but by every level of government so far, including the governor of the state of Texas, the Department of Public Safety and local elected officials who refuse to release basic information about what happened and why it happened," Castro told the families Monday night. "And that is a second kind of assault on the community of Uvalde."

"We just need something to change because if it doesn't, we'll feel like our kids died for nothing," said Angel Garza, stepfather to victim Amerie Jo Garza.

Earlier Monday, Uvalde County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a letter to Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, asking him to meet with victims' families who seek to speak with him about raising the minimum age for purchasing assault-style weapons to 21.

This vote came after similar calls on Abbott to convene a special session have gone unanswered.

"It's not going to happen," Uvalde County Commissioner Mariano Pargas Jr., who seconded the motion, said of Uvalde's pleas to Abbott to legislate the age requirement.

"​​We're hoping we can do something that will make 'em change their minds," he said of the intent behind the letter to the Texas State House speaker.

Getting families in front of legislators, he believes, is one way to do that.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Family of Alabama inmate fears for his life, alleges neglect by prison officials

Courtesy of Lee Merritt, Esq

(ELMORE, Ala.) -- When twins Kassie and Kascie Vaughan visited their brother at the Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama, on Sunday, they said he was unable to walk, had lost a significant amount of weight and was almost unrecognizable.

The family of 32-year-old Kastellio Vaughan, who was convicted on burglary and break-in charges in 2019, now fears for his life, saying the Alabama Department of Corrections is neglecting his health.

"He's looking terrible. Just one word, terrible. He's feeling weak in spirit. He's really just, he's really feeling low," Kascie Vaughan told ABC News. "He doesn't look like Kastellio, the brother that we know."

Kassie Vaughan told ABC News she received harrowing photos of her older brother earlier this month along with a message to get him help. Photos depicting Kastellio Vaughan slumped over, emaciated, and with a large, undressed wound extending down his abdominal area were allegedly sent by an unidentified inmate at Elmore Correctional Center.

"He said, 'Your brother's not gonna make it until Monday. Please get him help.'...[He said] they brought him back to general population at the prison, they didn't cover up his wounds, and the staples was bursting out of his abdomen," Kassie Vaughan told ABC News.

The inmate who sent the photos claimed he saw Kastellio Vaughan vomiting and in a weakened state after being released to Elmore's general population on Aug. 30. That was the same day Kastellio Vaughan had surgery to remove part of his small intestine due to complications from an old gunshot wound, according to his sisters.

They allege they were unaware their brother underwent a procedure until receiving the photos.

Kastellio Vaughan was transferred to Staton Correctional Facility's Medical Observation Unit last Friday, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Prison officials said Kastellio Vaughan had been in touch with his family and was observed walking and eating after his transfer to Staton Correctional.

"He has been in contact with his family to update them on his situation and ease their concerns," the department said in a statement about Vaughan's condition on Friday. "Inmate Vaughan has requested and received medical attention with the ADOC at least 11 times between July 30, 2022, and September 22, 2022. As a result, each time he received appropriate medical treatment and/or care."

"The ADOC offers a constitutional level care to all inmates," its statement continued. "However, inmates are not required to undergo care, just as citizens in the civilian world are afforded choice of whether to receive care."

Following their visit on Sunday, the Vaughan's said their brother's appearance and condition have not appeared to improve "at all" since the photos were taken. They also said he was using a wheelchair and unable to walk while they were at the facility. He also now has to use absorbent briefs, which the sisters said another inmate has to help change or he's forced to try and do it by himself.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has not responded to ABC News' request for comment on these most recent allegations.

Kassie Vaughan said she shared these photos of her brother on Facebook last week to bring attention to his deteriorating health.

"Even after being incarcerated and us being away from him, it really hurts but it was better because we knew that his health was OK," Kascie Vaughan said. "But after his health declined, we really just been feeling like we kind of losing our big brother. Like, we don't have no hope. And he's always protected us and now we feel like we are trying to protect him."

Civil rights attorneys Lee Merritt, Harry Daniels, and Ben Crump, who are now representing Vaughan, allege this is a case of medical neglect that points to larger issues in the prison system. Kastellio Vaughan's legal team alleges he's lost 75 pounds in less than a month.

"This is horrific," Crump said in a statement on Sunday. "Let's be clear, the state of Alabama has tried to deflect any action or responsibility for Mr. Vaughan's condition at every turn. If it wasn't for these pictures, the media spotlight and the resulting uproar, we might never have known about the neglect and Mr. Vaughan would have died before the public knew anything was happening."

Kastellio Vaughan's legal team and family "are still deeply concerned about his safety in that prison," Merritt told ABC News. He said they are now pushing for Vaughan to receive a professional medical evaluation, treatment and appropriate accommodations to restore his health.

"It shouldn't have been prisoners sending emergency text messages and photographs to his family, but it should have been the medical staff who are responsible for the health and safety of everyone who is under their care," Merritt said. "It is not as if Mr. Kastellio could have gone to see a doctor himself or scheduled an appointment. He is an inmate at that prison and the law requires that they honor their duty to provide for their prisoners' wellbeing."

"It doesn't matter what Kastellio did, why he was in jail, doesn't matter. As society as a whole, as human beings, we have a duty to one another. It doesn't matter what that person is imprisoned for," Daniels told ABC News. "We need this man to get well. Alright, we need him to get help. That's not asking for a whole lot."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hurricane Ian: Why the Gulf Coast -- especially in Florida -- is so vulnerable to hurricanes, storm surge

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The more than 1,200 miles of shores in the southern U.S. that line the Gulf of Mexico are no stranger to strong storms -- but that doesn't make potential damage from an approaching cyclone any less likely.

As Hurricane Ian marches closer to the U.S., its aim toward the Gulf Coast is especially concerning considering how vulnerable the region is to storm surge, experts told ABC News.

The underwater geology of the Gulf of Mexico is what makes the Gulf Coast particularly unguarded against the massive influx of seawater. The shallow waters in the Gulf, combined with the symmetry of its shallow ocean floor, are what allow the storm surge to be pushed even higher onto land, Ryan Truchelut, chief meteorologist at Weather Tiger, a consulting and risk management firm, told ABC News.

The continental shelf of the Florida Gulf Coast extends quite far offshore -- up to 200 miles in some spots, Truchelut said.

"The waters of the Gulf of Mexico just simply aren't that deep, over a lot of the Florida coastal waters just offshore," he said. "If there's wind pushing water toward that direction, it's shallow, it has nowhere to go. So it kind of amplifies and goes further inland."

Meteorologists are most concerned about the west coast of Florida, starting in the Florida Keys and north to Tampa Bay, Michael Brennan, acting deputy director for the National Hurricane Center, told ABC News.

The Tampa Bay area is "extremely sensitive" to storm surge, Brennan said, adding that the region could experience 5 to 8 feet of inundation -- meaning above ground-level flooding. The Fort Meyers and Charlotte Harbor areas could see 4 to 7 feet and regions farther south could see 3 to 5 feet of inundation, Brennan said.

Another reason why the Gulf of Mexico is especially vulnerable to hurricanes and storm surge is because of its unique U-shaped coastline, which essentially traps a storm system into a populated region, no matter which way it turns, Truchelut said.

"When a hurricane gets into the Gulf of Mexico, it's hard for it not to hit somebody," he said.

The same geography conundrum also applies on a smaller scale to Tampa Bay, which is almost shaped like a cul-de-sac and doesn't have anywhere for the water that's getting pushed around to go, Truchelut said.

"Right now, the way this storm is coming in, you'd have this sort of push of surge right into Tampa Bay and in regions along the Gulf, western Gulf Coast," Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and former president of the American Meteorological Society, told ABC News.

Although the models are still uncertain, Ian will almost certainly strike somewhere along the eastern Gulf Coast as a major hurricane, Shepherd said.

Oftentimes, if a hurricane trapped within the Gulf of Mexico changes directions, it exacerbates the threat even more, Truchelut said. The change in direction typically slows down the storm system, allowing more time for waves to get bigger and head toward the shallow continental shelf, he added. Ian will likely stall over the Tampa Bay region, Shepherd said.

Ian does not even need to directly impact the Tampa Bay region to do considerable damage, the experts said. Even without a direct hit, the slow movement at Ian's intensity will bring intense storm surge, flooding rain and prolonged hurricane-force winds.

In November 2020, Tropical Storm Eta, which had downgraded to a weak tropical storm after making landfall in Central America as a Category 4 hurricane, caused widespread flooding in Tampa. The storm made direct impact about 90 miles north of Tampa, but the 70 mph winds and soaking rain still caused bay waters to top seawalls in the area.

"It'd be 1,000 times worse had it been an actual major hurricane that was well organized," Truchelut said.

Because of the way Ian is moving, as well as its intensity and the fact that it may stall, it places the Tampa Bay region on what meteorologists call "the dirty side of the hurricane" -- the right front quadrant of the storm, just to the right of the eye, that typically has the worst of the winds and storm surge due to the motion and circulation of the system, Shepherd said.

A large concern is that many of the areas that flooded in the Tampa Bay region more than 100 years ago will do so again and at a greater scale -- and this time, populated by hundreds of thousands more people from the influx of development that has occurred since, Truchelut said. Much of the coastal infrastructure, including condos and homes along the coast, did not exist the last time a major hurricane directly impacted the region, Shepherd said.

Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization that analyzes and reports on climate science, has calculated the 100-year flood height in the Tampa Bay area at 6.5 feet. There are more than 125,000 homes in the region currently situated below that flood level.

The experts cautioned residents in Florida to heed evacuation warnings and not to be deterred by the category of the storm or "hurricane amnesia," since it has been a century since the region experienced a major storm.

"We as a society have to get accustomed to or used to planning for the worst, and maybe it doesn't happen," Shepherd said. "As good as our weather predictive capability is, if not, it still has some uncertainty with it."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First Mexican woman in space reflects on her lifelong dream of reaching the stars

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Katya Echazarreta made history in June when she became the first Mexican-born woman to travel into outer space.

The 27-year-old electrical engineer was aboard the June 4 flight of the Blue Origin as a Space for Humanity Ambassador. For her, this moment marked an emotional high point in her lifelong ambition to go into space.

Echazarreta spoke with GMA3 Monday for its Latina Leaders Week about her journey and message for others who are looking to reach for the stars.

ECHAZARRETA: I was 7 years old when I first told my mom, "What do you think is the hardest thing somebody can do?" And she said, "For you, I think maybe being an astronaut." And that is the day I decided that I wanted to go to space.

My parents were obsessed with Carl Sagan's "Cosmos." I was never met with, "Oh no, you wouldn't understand this. This is for grown-ups." If I had any questions about it, then I was welcomed in and I was shown more things.

I was 18 years old when I had to essentially become a parent to my siblings. My parents were going through a divorce. All of us had decided to stick with my mom. We had nothing. We no longer had a house. We no longer had a car. I had my job at McDonald's and she started being a nanny, cleaning houses, walking dogs, and that is how we were able to make it through.

It was 2019 when I applied for this mission through Space for Humanity, and I was already a NASA engineer. By this time, I came in expecting to do a second interview. They said, "You're going to be going to space." One of the most beautiful moments out of this whole experience was getting to tell my mom. She never let me believe that there was anything on Earth that I couldn't do or even anything in space that I couldn't do.

It was a very interesting experience. You're the highest you've ever been in your life. And then suddenly it's all black and you are now in space. And I looked out the window, I just couldn't believe it. And I felt just a single tear down on my cheek when I was first told that I would be going to space. I also understood that a woman born in Mexico had never gone to space before. Being told that that person would be me, it's a huge responsibility for women of color who are pursuing big dreams. It's harder for us, I know that, but it's also possible for us. I also know that I've seen it. I've done it. I've lived it. Si se puede. [Yes, we can!]

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hurricane categories explained: How strong is each category?

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- After a somewhat of a quiet start, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is fully underway as Hurricane Ian makes its way toward the U.S.

The storm is expected to make landfall on Florida's west coast or its panhandle by midday Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Ian is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane Monday night and is forecast to strike to become a Category 4 hurricane. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and said that storm conditions are "projected to constitute a major disaster."

How intense is a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane and what do the different categories mean for people in the storm's path?

The National Weather Service uses the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which only measures a hurricane's sustained wind speeds using a 1 to 5 rating system. This scale provides estimates of potential property damage, according to NWS.

Category 1 hurricane

A Category 1 hurricane has sustained winds between 74-95 mph, according to NWS.

Its "very dangerous winds" will cause some damage to roofs, shingles, vinyl sidings and gutters on well-built homes, NWS said on its website.

"Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled," the NWS said. "Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days."

Hurricane Danielle was the first Category 1 storm this season.

Category 2 hurricane

Winds on a Category 2 hurricane are between 96-110 mph. According to the NWS, its "extremely dangerous winds" can cause major roof and siding damage to well-constructed homes.

"Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks," NWS said.

Storms that are Category 3-5 are considered major hurricanes.

Category 3 hurricane

A Category 3 hurricane has continuous winds between 111-129 mph, where "devastating damage will occur," the NWS said.

"Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes," according to the agency.

Category 4 hurricane

Category 4 storms can cause "catastrophic damage" with their 130-156 mph winds. A Category 4 storm can cause severe damage to well-constructed homes, including damaging most of the roof and exterior walls.

"Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months," the NWS said on its website about Category 4 storms.

Category 5 hurricane

Category 5 hurricanes are the most devastating, with sustained winds of at least 157 mph.

"A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas," the NWS said. "Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

The last Category 5 hurricane to hit the U.S. was Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Florida in 2018.

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Climate activist who targeted Dakota Access Pipeline sentenced to 6 years after terrorism enhancement

Jason Marz/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A federal judge last week ordered Ruby Montoya, a 32-year-old climate activist, to serve six years in prison for her role in damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline -- a sentence that federal prosecutors said they hope will deter others who plan to engage in what they characterized as "domestic terrorism."

Montoya, who pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring to damage an energy facility, and 42-year-old activist Jessica Reznicek snuck through security fences, set fire to equipment and used chemicals to burn holes in the pipeline itself from 2016 to 2017, according to their plea agreements.

On Thursday, in addition to Montoya's prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Ebinger ordered the pair to pay more than $3 million in restitution.

In 2021, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility, Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison. Notably, both women faced sentencing enhancements under a criminal statute designed to penalize acts of domestic terrorism.

"The sentence imposed today demonstrates that any crime of domestic terrorism will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government," U.S. Attorney Richard D. Westphal said Thursday in a statement responding to Montoya's sentencing.

The terrorism enhancement traces back to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, after which Congress enacted tougher penalties to deter acts of "intimidation or coercion" aimed at the government or civilian population.

Terrorism sentences have since been applied almost exclusively to defendants with ties to overseas extremist groups like the Islamic State group or al-Qaida or to domestic extremists like Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to mailing pipe bombs to members of Congress.

In the wake of Reznicek's sentencing last year, critics argued that the law has been too broadly and inconsistently applied -- especially to so-called "ecoterrorists" like Reznicek and Montoya.

"I believe 100% that this is an overreach of power," said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "And it is absolutely imperative that we put guidelines in place."

Last month, those concerns attracted renewed attention after a federal judge declined to apply it to one of the most high-profile defendants in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Guy Wesley Reffitt, a 49-year-old Texas militiaman who was convicted in March of obstruction and other crimes, brought a weapon to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and threatened to "physically attack, remove and replace" lawmakers, making him a "quintessential" case for the enhancement, prosecutors wrote in a July sentencing memorandum.

Even so, before handing down an 87-month prison sentence in August, U.S. Judge Dabney Friedrich declined prosecutors' request to consider Reffitt's offence as domestic terrorism. In rejecting the enhancement, Friedrich sided with Reffitt's defense counsel, who accused prosecutors of utilizing the tool as retribution for Reffitt taking the case to trial rather than accepting a plea agreement.

Reznicek appealed her sentencing in the pipeline case, citing the district court's application of the terrorism sentencing enhancement. In June, a circuit court upheld her prison term.

Attorneys for Montoya did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Video released of Los Angeles police officers fatally shooting man armed with airsoft rifle

Los Angeles Police Department

(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Police Department released dramatic body-camera and surveillance footage over the weekend showing two officers responding to a domestic violence call this month and one of them fatally shooting a 19-year-old man who emerged from a home wielding what turned out to be an airsoft rifle, authorities said.

The incident occurred on Sept. 17 in the Vermont Vista neighborhood of southeast Los Angeles.

"We are still at the very early stages of this investigation, which can often take up to a year to complete," Capt. Kelly Muniz, a spokesperson for the LAPD, said in a video statement that accompanied the footage of the shooting.

The suspected gunman was identified as Luis Herrera, who had earlier called 911 twice requesting police be sent to his house and complaining that his father was allegedly drunk and beating his mother, police said.

"I tried to get involved and now he is attacking me," Herrera allegedly told the 911 dispatcher, according to a recording of the call also released by the LAPD.

Two officers arrived at the home at about 1:20 p.m., according to Muniz.

As one of the officers approached the front porch, Herrera allegedly emerged from the home wielding what appeared to be a black assault rifle, according to the body-camera video.

The officers immediately took cover at the side of the home, ordering the man to put down the weapon.

"However, he did not comply with officers commands and shouldered the rifle and pointed directly at the officers resulting in an officer-involved shooting," Muniz said in a narration of the body-camera video.

Police immediately called for backup as family members came out of the house and the officers ordered them to get back inside, according to the video.

"That's my son," a woman is heard screaming on the video as the mortally wounded Herrera laid on the ground outside his home, still clutching the rifle in his hands.

At one point, Herrera's father emerged from the home and told police the gun was an airsoft rifle that fires plastic projectiles, according to the video.

Following the shooting, the video showed police officers standing back from Herrera for several minutes, ordering him to let go of the gun as he appeared to continue moving, the video shows. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics eventually pronounced Herrera dead at the scene, authorities said.

The officer who fatally shot Herrera was identified as Luis Navarrete, who has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Once completed, the investigation is expected to be reviewed by Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, the city's Board of Police Commissioners and the Office of Inspector General to determine if Navarrete's use of deadly force complied with the LAPD's policies and procedures.

Muniz said investigators are collecting and analyzing additional evidence and added that an "understanding of the incident may change" depending on the review.

"We also do not draw any conclusions about whether the officers acted consistent with our policies and the law until all the facts are known and the investigation is complete," Muniz said.

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Second student rower dies after apparent lightning strike on Florida lake

Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A student rower who was injured after an apparent lightning strike on a Florida lake last week has died, becoming the second fatality stemming from the weather-related incident.

"It is with broken hearts that we share the passing of a second rower involved in last Thursday's weather-related tragedy," North Orlando Rowing wrote on Facebook Saturday. "The NOR community is devastated and continues to focus on supporting our affected families and our entire NOR team during this difficult time. We continue to cooperate with local authorities and USRowing as they investigate the incident."

The group said it wouldn't provide further comment until the investigation is complete.

Members of the nonprofit rowing group were practicing at Lake Fairview in Orlando when the incident happened on Sept. 15, the Orlando Fire Department had told ABC News.

The next day, search teams from the Orlando Police Department, Orange County Fire and Rescue Department and Orlando's dive team discovered the body of another student who had gone missing after the apparent lightning strike.

"Preliminary reports indicate lightning struck the area," the fire department told ABC News in a statement earlier this month.

"We are incredibly saddened by this incident and appreciate the efforts of the multiple agencies who worked together over the past 24 hours to assist in the rescue," the fire department said at the time.

Five people were on board a vessel at the time, all believed to be students from various Central Florida schools, Orlando's fire department said.

Authorities and the United States Rowing Association are investigating the incident, according to North Orlando Rowing.

"We are beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and concern from around the world," North Orlando Rowing said Saturday. "Please continue to hold our families in your prayers."

ABC News' Melissa Gaffney, Meredith Deliso and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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9/11 Tunnel to Towers 5K race stirs memories each year for first responders

Courtesy Erica Johnston

(NEW YORK) -- Every year on the third Sunday of September, hundreds of runners gather in an IKEA parking lot in Brooklyn, New York right at the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Park tunnel, ready to run 3.2 miles into Manhattan for the Tunnel to Towers 5K -- commemorating 9/11.

The annual event honors fallen Brooklyn firefighter Stephen Siller who, while dressed in his full gear, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Park tunnel to Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001.

Siller, with Brooklyn Squad 1, learned the north tower of the World Trade Center complex had been hit by a plane just after he finished his shift. He turned around, grabbed his gear and drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

It was closed but Siller was determined, so he walked the rest of the way to the towers. He worked to save others in the aftermath of the attacks but died at the scene.

On Sunday, volunteer firefighter Erica Johnston was one of the runners in her own first-responder gear -- pants, jackets, suspenders and helmet -- in tribute to Siller and the other victims.

Johnston, from Long Island, ran the Tunnel to Towers 5K for the sixth year, she told ABC News. She said she felt the remnants of 9/11 as she finished the race.

"It's just in the air," Johnston said. "You are standing literally in the footprint of what happened that day and you're looking out … It just takes your breath away."

Johnston, who was in the sixth grade when the Twin Towers fell, said, "If you run this race and especially if you live in New York, you're from New York or the surrounding area, you've been affected by 9/11 in whatever way that is. It's just impossible not to feel that same sense of tremendous emotion."

When asked why he runs in his gear, Maine firefighter Jon Lee pointed to Siller's example: "He did it to save strangers' lives. He did that for others. He did that for us. And the least I can do to honor him is to run the same route in the same gear."

Westchester fireman Carlo Valente said, "It's a small sacrifice that we can do, the closest thing we can get to physically -- not mentally, not emotionally."

Valente's colleague Claude Sanz said he gives credit and honor to Siller, "who did this knowing that his friends and buddies were on the other side in hell." The race, to him, was a no-brainer: "we just do it."

Brooklyn Squad 1 lost 12 other firefighters that day, as well as Siller. They are honored with a statue outside of their former fire station.

The 5K supports the Tunnel to Towers foundation, founded after 9/11, which helps American first responders by providing mortgage-free homes to families with young children who have had relatives die in military service or as first responders.

The foundation builds homes for injured veterans and first responders while committing to end veteran homelessness and aiding victims of major U.S. disasters.

New York City firefighter Jon Stanton told ABC News that the fundraising race "means everything. It's about service, especially for us being firemen. This event represents everybody that has passed away over the 21 years."

The event also serves to remind new generations about 9/11 and the sacrifices that first responders and others made then -- and continue to make now -- to save lives

"So many people have forgotten what happened that day. It's just a page in a history book that they just glance over. I don't want to forget," Valente said.

He runs in honor of a firefighter who belonged to his squad who died on 9/11.

"I never met him … But I know that feeling that it gets forgotten. And it's not about us here now, but it's about them, their memories, what they've gone through and what they meant to their families and friends," Valente said.

As a young firefighter, Josh Coletta, from Ohio, said Sunday that he can feel the legacy of Sept. 11 in his own life.

"I wasn't alive at the time of 9/11 and still it impacts us all in different ways," he said.

Tunnel to Towers' foundation was created by Siller's older brother, Frank, in 2001. The first 5K was in 2002 and the race now happens annually on the last Sunday of September.

The group is supported by other races as well, like the Tower Climb, where participants climb up 104 flights of stairs in the Freedom Tower to the One World Observatory. Runners can also create teams for the New York City Marathon and Half Marathon to collect donations for the foundation.

The Tunnel to Towers foundation says it has raised more than $250 million to support veterans and first responders and provided more than 450 mortgage-free homes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Congressman Lee Zeldin facilitated the foundation's donation of 10,000 KN95 face masks to be distributed to Suffolk County frontline workers.

The foundation also donated 140,000 face shields to New York City hospitals.

Running in 60 pounds of firefighter gear is a physical challenge. But Johnston, one the runners on Sunday, said she was reminded of "the gravity of the original situation -- where Steven Siller ran through the tunnel without even thinking about it in his gear with an air pack, all kinds of stuff, and he just did what needed to be done."

As a volunteer first responder since 2013, as both an EMT and a firefighter, Johnston said she has an acute sense of community.

That connection is one of the pillars of being a firefighter, members of various departments across the country agreed.

The Tunnel to Towers race "is part of a community tradition," Westchester firefighter Roberto Gordillo said Sunday.

"Our fire department had a lot of volunteers come and go, and it's something to continue to keep the fire department engaged with the traditions of the community, with what 9/11 means to a lot of people," he said.

Johnston's fellow firefighters connect her to the past and the present, she said.

"Being in the department that I'm in, many of the guys a couple years older than me, they were there that day [in 2001] or they know somebody who lost somebody," she added. "Especially for me, sharing their experiences of that day all this time later is just a way to remember and keep the memory alive."

Johnston felt this same sense of community from the crowds.

"There's a million American flags, there's FDNY firefighters, there's military personnel holding silk screens of the 343 firefighters and Port Authority police and NYPD officers who were killed in 9/11," she said.

Service members, police officers and firemen hold images of the fallen first responders as runners exit the tunnel each year. The memorial banners stretch across the final mile of the race.

"It's absolutely electric, all the encouragement and community, whether you're in your gear or not," Johnston said.

Sanz agreed: "To think of how this city came together to help each other ... What is heart-wrenching is to see people from other parts of the country come here to mourn with us, just to remember."

That resiliency matters, he said.

"9/11 brought us together like nothing I've ever seen. They broke us for a day," he said. "That was it."

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Philadelphia police release surveillance video in fatal shooting of Temple University graduate

Philadelphia Police Department

(PHILADELPHIA) -- Police released surveillance video on Friday in the shooting death of a Temple University graduate in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Police Department identified the victim as 23-year-old Everett Beauregard, who was killed on the 400 block of North 35th Street around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Capt. Jason Smith said during a press conference.

Smith said that Beauregard had left a party with friends in South Philadelphia and had taken public transportation to a train stop near his home when he ran into the suspect.

"Tragically, Mr. Beauregard's life was cut short by this horrific act of violence and for no apparent reason whatsoever. This was not a robbery attempt as we initially believed," Smith said.

Police found Beauregard on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to his neck, authorities said. He was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

During the press conference, police played surveillance footage recorded on the night of the shooting. The video shows the suspect walking down the 400 block of North 35th, passing Beauregard, turning around and shooting him as his back was turned.

"The offender was observed on video surveillance lingering around the area well before the incident at 11:21 p.m.," Smith said.

Authorities described the suspect as wearing black pants, a black-hooded sweatshirt and a face mask.

"This wasn't an argument between Mr. Beauregard and the offender. Not a word was spoken between the two prior to the offender turning and shooting Mr. Beauregard in his back," the police captain said.

Beauregard worked for Wells Fargo and was going to get his master's degree, according to police.

"Everett had just become Temple Made in June, which only further magnifies the tragic circumstances surrounding his death," Temple University said in a statement on Twitter. "He had a very bright future ahead of him, and it is beyond disheartening knowing we will no longer be able to watch him soar alongside his fellow Owls. Our thoughts are with Everett's family, friends and the entire Temple community during this tremendously difficult time."

Police considered the suspect armed and dangerous and have urged anyone with information to contact them.

The Philadelphia police department is offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect, authorities said.

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Kennywood shooting: 3 shot, including 2 teenagers, in front of ride at amusement park

Mike Valente/WTAE

(PITTSBURGH) -- A gunman was on the run Sunday after shooting three people, including two teenagers, and sparking panic at a crowded amusement park near Pittsburgh, police said.

Gunfire erupted around 10:46 p.m. Saturday at the Kennywood amusement park in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin, police said.

Witnesses said the shooting occurred in front of the park's popular Musik Express ride and sent park-goers diving for cover and running to the exits. Police said several people were injured when they were apparently trampled while attempting to get out of harm's way.

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Christopher Kearns said an altercation occurred and the alleged assailant pulled a handgun and started firing.

At the time of the shooting, West Mifflin and Allegheny County police officers were at the park and quickly responded along with park security to the gunfire, according to a statement released by park officials.

Kearns said officers found two people wounded at the scene. He said a 15-year-old boy and a 39-year-old man were both shot in the leg. The teenager was taken to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh in stable condition, while the adult victim was treated and released from Mercy Hospital, Kearns said.

A third victim, also a 15-year-old boy, left the park on his own but later showed up at a hospital to be treated for a graze wound to his leg, Kearns said.

Witnesses told investigators the suspected gunman appeared to be a teenager wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a COVID-style mask.

A handgun was recovered at the scene, according to police.

Police are investigating how the weapon got into the park. All Kennywood employees and guests must pass through metal detectors at the entrance gate and all backpacks and coolers are subject to inspection, according to the park's website.

The shooting occurred on the first day of the park's 20th annual Phantom Fall Fest, a family-friendly Halloween season event, according to the park's website.

The gunfire broke out about 14 minutes before the park was set to close for the night.

"Most everyone ran. There was, at one point, a hundred people just ran out of the park," a witness told ABC affiliate station WTAE in Pittsburgh.

Kennywood officials said the amusement park was immediately shut down after the shooting and all visitors were evacuated. The park plans to reopen on Sept. 30, according to the park's website.

"The safety of our guests and team members are our top priority," the park's statement reads.

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Massive mural of Harriet Tubman unveiled in chosen hometown of abolitionist

Courtesy of Arthur Hutchinson

(NEW YORK) -- The 'Harriet Tubman: Her Life in Freedom Mural' was unveiled in a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday in downtown Auburn, New York, the city where the abolitionist, activist, and freedom pioneer spent over 50 years of her life.

Measuring an impressive 26 by 61 feet, the mural, commissioned by a group called the Harriet Tubman Boosters, showcases Tubman's life as a self-emancipated woman.

Debra Rose Brillati, a member of the organization first formed in 1953 to keep Tubman's legacy alive, told ABC News that the piece has been an ongoing project since 2019. After years of fundraising efforts, the Harriet Tubman Boosters reached their $40,000 fundraising goal on August 19.

While the mural was an idea that had been discussed by the group previously, it was Michael Rosato's 'Harriet Tubman Mural' in Cambridge, Maryland, near Tubman's enslaved birthplace of Dorchester County that prompted the group to move forward.

"When we saw that we said, 'You know what, we need a mural in Auburn'," Brillati said. After a meeting with Rosato, the Harriet Tubman Boosters mural committee ultimately decided to find a local artist to take on the project.

"And so when we saw Arthur Hutchinson's work, we were like, boy, this, this fits the bill," Brillati added.

Arthur "The Artist" Hutchinson, the creative behind the mural, told ABC News that he wanted the piece to be a vibrant tapestry that makes an impact on all who see it.

"The tricky thing about this mural is it's not just a picture of her, it's really there to tell her story," Hutchinson, who grew up in Auburn, said. "I hope they react at first and just see this bright, beautiful picture and are attracted to it. And then once they start to actually look at it, I hope they're able to learn that Harriet Tubman did more than the Underground Railroad."

The design features scenes of Tubman at various stages of her life including her as a leader of the 1863 Combahee River Raid, a nurse during the Civil War, an active participant in the women's suffrage movement, and an older woman in the apple orchard she cultivated at her home.

Not far from the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, the mural is the Harriet Tubman Boosters' latest and largest project in furthering their mission of honoring Tubman's life, Brillati said.

"She worked her whole life. You know, she never gave up on her quest for freedom and justice and rights for people," she said. "And that's…a story that we have to tell here that I think is important for people to hear."

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Tropical Storm Ian forecast to impact Florida as major hurricane

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A storm that has the potential to make landfall in Florida next week as a Category 3 hurricane strengthened overnight into a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Ian formed over the central Caribbean Sea late Friday, becoming the ninth tropical storm of the season.

The storm is expected to continue to strengthen over the weekend into a hurricane by Sunday night as it approaches the Cayman Islands. A tropical storm watch currently is in effect for Jamaica, and a hurricane watch is in effect for the Cayman Islands.

Ian is forecast to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane as it closely passes the Cayman Islands, then become a major Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday morning as it moves past Cuba. Very warm ocean waters and low wind shear are providing favorable conditions for rapid intensification of the storm.

The current forecast track shows landfall on the west coast of Florida by early Thursday, though the track and intensity of the storm can still change over the coming days.

"With majority of west coast in the cone, uncertainty of landfall remains high," the National Weather Service said.

The National Hurricane Center has advised residents of Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula to have a hurricane plan in place and closely follow forecast updates.

In preparation for the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday declaring a "state of emergency" for 24 Florida counties in the system's potential path. He expanded the order on Saturday to include the entire state of Florida, with conditions "projected to constitute a major disaster."

"This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations," DeSantis said in a statement. "We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”

The emergency order means members of the Florida National Guard will be activated and on standby.

White House officials confirmed late Friday that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell had spoken to DeSantis about the pending storm.

ABC News' Riley Winch, Melissa Griffin and Dan Amarante contributed to this report.

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Artemis I launch attempt set for Tuesday, but possible hurricane could delay plans

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(CAPE CANAVERAL, FL) -- NASA said Friday it is planning its third launch attempt of Artemis I on Sept. 27 after scrubbing the initial endeavor earlier this month.

During a press conference, officials said the launch window will open at 11:37 a.m. ET, but Tropical Depression Nine could delay plans.

Currently, there is only a 20% chance of favorable weather on Tuesday as Tropical Depression Nine heads towards Florida and may make landfall as a major hurricane next week.

However, Tom Whitmeyer, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said the team is not assuming the launch will be canceled just yet.

"It's still a tropical depression number nine, it's not a named storm," Whitmeyer told reporters. "We really want to continue to try to get as much information as we can so we can make the best possible decision for the hardware."

The team said it will continue to monitor the weather and will decide on Saturday whether to continue with the Tuesday launch.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

Since then, engineers and mission managers have been running tests to make sure the rocket is ready during its next attempt.

In a press release, NASA said the Artemis team encountered a hydrogen leak during a test run on Wednesday, but the issue was addressed and resolved.

The process of tanking, which includes filling the rocket's core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was also successful.

"We had a very successful tanking test all of the tanks," John Blevins, NASA's Space Launch System chief engineer, said during the press conference. "We were able to do some things that we won't have to do again, some things that we intended to do even on launch day that were left over from previous dress rehearsals. So, it was a very successful."

If the launch is scrubbed on Sept. 27, the next launch attempt will occur on Sunday, Oct. 2.

If that Oct. 2 is also a no-go, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

Over the course of the Artemis missions, NASA plans to eventually send the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon.

The federal space agency also plans to establish a moon base as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 or 2025.

 

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