TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Much of the Tampa Bay area is under a hurricane watch ahead of Hurricane Ian.

A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions (maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. It is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, the NHC said.

Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties are affected.

Polk, Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties are now under a tropical storm watch. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the specified area, generally within 48 hours.

The tropical alerts came after Ian strengthened into a hurricane early Monday morning. The storm is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Western Cuba Monday night. Ian is forecast to emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday before it passes west of the Florida Keys and approaches the west coast of Florida on Wednesday.

Much of the Tampa Bay area is also under a storm surge watch, and could see 5 to 8 feet of storm surge in over the next 48 hours.