NEW YORK (PIX11) — Hurricane Ian is barreling forward as it continues its path toward the United States.

It could make landfall on Florida’s west coast as early as Wednesday but its effects could be felt sooner, with tropical storm-force winds expected to reach the tip of the state Tuesday morning.

And as of Tuesday morning, the areas around Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared most likely to be hit first.

Flash flooding is possible, along with life-threatening storm surges in some areas.

As a result, 2,500 National Guardsmen have been prepped in advance of the storm’s arrival. Sandbags are being filled and residents are stocking up on essentials. Some people are also filling up their cars with gas and readying their generators in case of widespread outages.

And there are some who have decided to not take any chances and are leaving the area entirely.

“No doubt we are going to feel the effects. What we are asking is for everyone to be prepared,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

The most recent forecasts have Hurricane Ian making landfall Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.