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Tropical Storm Ian update: Ian continues to strengthen And Which region of Florida will Ian visit?
Across the central Caribbean Sea, the ninth named tropical storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season has formed. It is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before landfall in Florida the following week. A major storm has not hit the state since 2018.
Calm before the Tropical Storm At 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center estimated that Ian was 270 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and moving west at 15 mph.
The center predicted on Friday that Ian would be “a significant hurricane over the eastern Gulf when it is approaching the west coast of Florida,” following a brief passage over Cuba. The eastern Panhandle of Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast may be in danger.
The location on Florida’s coast where Ian makes landfall is uncertain as of Saturday morning’s forecasts. Landfall is predicted to occur in Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon, according to the European model, and near the Big Bend region of the state on Friday morning, according to the American model.
The official hurricane center track is an average of the other models, with landfall expected around Tampa on Wednesday night.
On Saturday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extended an emergency decree from 24 counties to the entire state, citing “preceding conditions, which are predicted to constitute a severe disaster.”
For the Florida Peninsula and parts of the Florida Big Bend, North Florida, and Northeast Florida, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Hurricane Center have determined that there is a continuing risk of dangerous storm surges, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, strong winds, hazardous seas, and isolated tornadic activity.
The area of southwest Florida could feel the effects of tropical storm force winds as early as Tuesday morning, and the storm could make landfall on Wednesday.
The storm, formerly known as Tropical Depression Nine, has gained strength overnight, and it is expected to become a hurricane within the next two days as it reaches the Cayman Islands on Monday morning. By Monday night, the system is expected to have strengthened considerably further as it approaches and traverses western Cuba.
The storm could strengthen into a major hurricane with gusts of 111 mph (178 km/h) or more as it re-emerges into the warm seas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
When it reaches western Cuba, “Ian is likely to be near major hurricane intensity,” the hurricane center said. Since Ian is not forecast to linger over Cuba for very long, weakening from land interaction is not feared.
If it reaches Category 3 status before hitting Florida, it will be the first significant hurricane to hit the state since Hurricane Michael in 2018. Michael was a monster Category 5 storm that slammed into the Florida panhandle. As ocean temperatures rise owing to the climate crisis, storms like Michael are more likely to intensify rapidly before making landfall.
The Cayman Islands government has issued a hurricane watch for all of the Cayman Islands, including Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. The government of Jamaica has issued a tropical storm watch.
The center said an NOAA Hurricane Hunter plane would fly over Ian on Saturday afternoon to learn more about the storm.
DeSantis announced a state of emergency for twenty-two counties on Friday in preparation for the potential threat, and he asked for emergency aid from the federal government. Florida National Guard troops have been activated and placed on standby per the state’s emergency order.
The governor warned individuals who may be in the storm’s path to take precautions.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a catastrophic hurricane, and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis stated in a press statement. To monitor the potential effects of this storm, we are cooperating with all state and local government partners.
Forecasters urge residents to prepare
The hurricane season, which experts predicted would be active, has gotten off to a relatively quiet start. One storm made landfall in a US territory, but no hurricanes hit or threatened the 48 contiguous states.
Now that we are over the height of hurricane season by a week, the tropics appear to have awakened, and forecasters are worried that people have stopped being vigilant.
Risk of Atlantic storms peaks in early September
Research scientist at Colorado State University Phil Klotzbach tweeted, “After a slow start, the Atlantic hurricane season has ratcheted up quickly.”
Maria Torres, a spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center, told CNN, “People tend to… relax their guard and believe, well, yes, we’re out of the woods.” “In actuality, though, the season still goes on. September is not over yet; we still have October to look forward to. We must watch anything that may form in the Atlantic or the Caribbean.”
This coming Sunday, November 30th, the Atlantic hurricane season will be officially over.
Keep an eye on the latest projections this weekend and early next week whether you live in the Caribbean, Florida, or any other Gulf Coast state.
Which region of Florida will Ian visit?
Where Ian might make landfall on Florida’s coast will depend on the forecast models for Saturday AM. The American model predicts landfall early on Friday morning near the state’s Big Bend region, while the European model predicts landfall close to Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon.