Tuesday's live updates: Marion County gets ready for Hurricane Ian

Most of Florida is on alert as Hurricane Ian makes its way north and toward the state.

This live blog will provide updates from local sources in Marion County. As a recap of Monday's news:

Tuesday's 5 p.m. update: Hurricane Ian to produce heavy rain

Hurricane Ian continued to march toward Florida on Tuesday as thousands of Marion County residents and county officials scurried around making preparations for the storm, which is expect make landfall just north of Cape Coral.

The National Hurricane Center placed Marion County under a tropical storm warning at 11 a.m. Tuesday and by 5 p.m. the forecast track showed the storm tracking inland from Cape Coral to Marineland and then heading due north along the east coast of Florida.

The storm is expected to cross over St. Augustine Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Fernandina Beach and be off the coast of Georgia at 2 p.m. Friday. Forecasters warn that effects will be felt all across the Florida peninsula.

Also, the College of Central Florida announced it was closed through the remainder of the week.

How to get Hurricane Ian information directly from the National Hurricane Center

One way to learn about approaching hurricanes is to visit the National Hurricane Center website. On the home page it will have a map of all active hurricanes, and below there is a list of the active storms.

The hurricane center updates the storms every three hours around the clock, beginning at 5 a.m. The best times to look at the data are 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. This is when a detailed discussion about the storm is updated.

Public advisories and the tracking map are updated at every three-hour interval, including 8 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Anyone can also look at the archive of a storm and read all the previous advisories and discussions.

Tuesday's 2 p.m. update: Hurricane Ian to produce heavy rain

Hurricane Ian was packing 120 mph wind as it moved at 10 mph toward the west coast of Florida, where it is expected to make landfall south of Sarasota near Venice on Wednesday and slowly make its way northeast toward Jacksonville by Friday.

The National Hurricane Center believes that central Florida peninsula near Tampa will receive 12 to 16 inches or rain, with isolated totals up to 24 inches.

Northeast Florida and the remainder of the Central Florida is expected to get 5 to 10 inches, with isolated totals up to 12 inches.

"Heavy rainfall is expected to affect the southeastern United States on Friday and Saturday," the hurricane center's forecast states. "Widespread considerable flash and urban flooding are expected mid-to-late week across central and northern Florida, southern Georgia, and coastal South Carolina."

The report noted that significant, prolonged river flooding expected across central and north Florida. Tornadoes are possible in Marion County when Ian makes his way past the area between Wednesday and Friday.

The latest information about Marion County Public Schools and shelters

Marion County Public Schools has announced that schools will be be closed on Friday, as well, because of anticipated severe weather from Hurricane Ian. Schools already were scheduled to be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

The closures are districtwide and affect all schools, departments and district offices. School district employees should check their email accounts for makeup days later this school year.

West Port High School, 3733 SW 80th Ave., opened as a special needs shelter. At noon Wednesday, the following schools will open as general needs shelters:

• Belleview Middle: 10500 SE 36th Ave., Belleview

• Dunnellon High: 10055 SW 180th Ave. Road, Dunnellon

• Fort McCoy School: 16160 NE County Road 315, Fort McCoy

• Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary: 4397 SW 95th St., Ocala

• North Marion Middle: 2085 W. County Road 329, Citra

• Vanguard High (pet friendly): 7 NW 28th St., Ocala

For more information on sheltering, call the Marion County Citizens Information Hotline at (352) 369-7500.

Where is Hurricane Ian heading? This tool will help you see

USA TODAY has developed this tool to track Ian's path, trajectory and strength. Check it out.

National Weather Service: Winds to near 60 mph in east Marion

National Weather Service forecasters in Jacksonville predict that eastern Marion County in the Ocala National Forest may get 60 mph wind, with higher gusts, when Hurricane Ian slowly passes between Salt Springs and Daytona early Friday.

Rob Niemeyer, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Jacksonville, said the predictions are based on the latest track of Ian, which is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon near Venice, just south of Sarasota.

Niemeyer said that Marion County could receive 11 inches of rain, with more than foot in some areas, through Friday. He noted that Ocala and western Marion may get 45 mph wind, with higher gusts at the peak of the storm.

Tuesday's 11 a.m. update: Hurricane Ian to pass by far east Marion

Marion County was placed under a tropical storm warning at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. forecast shows Hurricane Ian making landfall near Venice, south of Sarasota, at 8 p.m. Wednesday and skirting the eastern side of Marion County into Friday morning.

On this track, Marion may get still get up to a foot of rain, more in some areas, and some tropical force wind for many hours, through early Friday. The forecast track has Ian reaching St. Augustine and then heading due north across Jacksonville into Georgia.

Ian is expected to nearly stall as it makes its way northeast through north central Florida. The forecast warned that south central West Florida, in the Sarasota area, could get 12 to 16 inches of rain, with isolated totals up to 24 inches.

Tuesday's 8 a.m. update: For now, Hurricane Ian still expected to cross Marion County

The National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. intermediate forecast still shows Hurricane Ian making landfall just north of Sarasota at 2 p.m. Thursday and crossing The Villages and Ocala beginning late Wednesday evening.

On this track, Marion may get up to a foot of rain, more in some areas, and tropical force wind for many hours, through early Friday.

Ian is expected to move slowly as it makes its way up north central Florida. The forecast warned that central West Florida, in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, could get 12 to 16 inches of rain, with isolated totals up to 24 inches.

Michael Brennan, the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, told The Weather Channel at 8:25 a.m. that the forecast may be shifted further to the east.

And that could mean a landfall south of Sarasota, with the storm heading into the Atlantic Ocean between Cape Canaveral and Melbourne. The forecast tracks are evolving and will likely change in the next day or so, he noted.

Local CF, Saint Leo University campuses will close due to Ian

The College of Central Florida will be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the threat of Hurricane Ian.

This closing is for all sites, including the Ocala campus, Citrus campus, Levy campus, Hampton Center, Appleton Museum and Vintage Farm. Online classes and scheduled activities also are canceled.

The cancelation includes the CF District Board of Trustees meeting, which has been postponed until Oct. 5. The CF website and social media will have additional updates.

Also, Saint Leo University classes in Ocala are also canceled on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. During this time, faculty and staff should continue to work from home if their positions and weather conditions allow.

On Monday, Marion County Public Schools announced that schools would be closed on Wednesday and Thursday so that some of the locations can be opened as shelters.

Tuesday's 5 a.m. update: Ian now expected to cross Marion County on Friday

Hurricane Ian is now expected to make landfall between St. Petersburg and Sarasota as a major Category 3 hurricane at 2 a.m. Thursday and then move slowly east and north across The Villages and Ocala.

The 5 a.m. forecast shows that the storm should pass near Spring Hill at 2 p.m. Thursday and then pass over The Villages and Ocala at 2 a.m. Friday. The threat of rain and isolated tornadoes should be expected all across the Florida peninsula for days.

The National Hurricane Center said in its discussion that people should be "reminded to not focus on the exact track, as some additional adjustments to the track are possible, and wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards will extend far from the center."

"The updated forecast track has necessitated several changes to the warnings and watches across the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula, including an extension of the Hurricane Warning southward to Bonita Beach on the west coast," NHC noted.

What does 'rapid intensification' mean?

Experts say Hurricane Ian will experience "rapid intensification." What does that mean?USA TODAY has some answers.

Don't forget about Fiona

The storm is doing major damage in Canada, as USA TODAY reports. READ MORE HERE.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Hurricane Ian Live Updates: Ocala storm path, flood potential