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In pictures: Bracing for Hurricane Ian

Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Imagaes

A man helps pull small boats out of Havana Bay in Cuba on Monday, September 26.

Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified Monday as it barreled toward Florida, threatening dangerous storm surges in places not used to getting hit directly by a hurricane.

While projection models show a wide range of possible paths, one fear is evident: The Tampa Bay area, on the western side of Florida, could get its first direct hit from a hurricane since 1921.

Officials on Florida’s west coast urged residents to flee instead of staying to protect their property.

As Ian churned toward Florida on Monday, it was expected to produce “heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and possible mudslides” in parts of Jamaica and Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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