Hurricane Ian is quickly strengthening near Cuba and will cause hurricane conditions in western Cuba before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in Florida. It was early Monday morning when I formed in the western Caribbean Sea, southwest of Grand Cayman, becoming the fourth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.
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It’s on track to strengthen into the season’s second major storm. This is the current state of our knowledge about Ian. Ian is a hurricane that is currently situated near western Cuba and heading north-northwest.
Storms are heading northward across southern Florida and much of Cuba, bringing rain and strong winds. Bands of heavy rain pounded Grand Cayman on Monday morning, and winds reached speeds of up to 53 miles per hour.
A hurricane warning has been issued for Tampa Bay and the rest of the West Coast of Florida north of Englewood to the Anclote River. If the hurricane watch is activated, then severe weather is predicted on Tuesday night.
The area of western Cuba illustrated on the following map is also under a hurricane warning. What this signifies is that hurricane conditions are currently occurring or will soon commence.
From the Anclote River to Flamingo, a storm surge warning has been issued, indicating that by Tuesday, there is a risk of catastrophic flooding caused by ocean water rushing inland from the coast.
Other regions of western and central Cuba, much of Central Florida, and the lower Florida Keys are under a tropical storm warning, which means that these areas can expect to experience tropical storm conditions on Tuesday or Wednesday.
By Wednesday afternoon, tropical storm conditions are likely throughout much of the East coast of Florida and southeastern Georgia, where a tropical storm watch is in effect.
Forecast Path, Wind Intensity
The National Hurricane Center has released its most recent forecast for the route of Hurricane Ian. Over the past day, something has been moving to the east. f Ian continues straight down the middle of the cone of uncertainty, the resulting path is nearly the worst-case scenario for the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area.
Consequently, the strong eyewall may pass through all three cities, directing the water into Tampa Bay and other southern river systems. On Tuesday morning, Ian will move across western Cuba and head in the direction of the Florida Peninsula throughout the middle of the week.
Florida, U.S. Impacts
Beginning on Tuesday in the Keys and Wednesday in the hurricane warning region in western Florida, tropical-storm-force winds are predicted to arrive in Florida. Just keep in mind that the center of any hurricane or tropical storm will be hit before the outer edges.
Have grown in size and may slow down as it approaches the Gulf Coast, making it a severe storm surge and rainfall threat despite any intensity loss that may occur before landfall, as we’ll describe later.
If the predicted high tide coincides with a storm, the area below may be inundated to its greatest extent (as depicted on the map provided by the National Hurricane Center). In their Monday night 11 o’clock talk, the National Hurricane Center warned that “there is a possibility of life-threatening storm surge along much of the Florida west coast,” from Tampa Bay to the Everglades.
The southernmost parts of Florida could experience storm surge flooding as early as Tuesday night, while the rest of western Florida might not escape the threat until Wednesday. The danger along the western coast of Florida may reach its height on Thursday or Friday, then gradually fade by Saturday.
It is likely that the First Coast of Florida, as well as the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina will see storm surge if Ian slows down and the water has time to build up. St. Johns River in Northeast Florida could flood if winds are blowing from the northeast at the time.
Now, much of the Florida peninsula, including the interior, is forecast to be flooded. Until late in the week, the western peninsula of Florida could see up to 20 inches of rain while most of central Florida might see over 5 inches.
Rapid flooding of streets and streets, as well as rivers, is possible as a result of this rainfall.
It is possible that the flooding along and near the western Florida Gulf Coast will be exacerbated by water pushing in from the Gulf which might temporarily obstruct rain-swollen rivers that ordinarily flow to the Gulf.
Later on Friday and throughout the weekend, Ian will move inland across the Southeast United States bringing with it heavy rain strong winds, and the possibility of localized tornadoes.
Ian’s predicted course towards Florida still has some room for error. If Ian sharpens its turn to the east, it may make landfall on the western coast of the Florida Peninsula as early as Wednesday night. But if it keeps heading north, it might not hit the panhandle until Thursday night or Friday at the earliest.
I an is forecast to slow down as it approaches land, which could lengthen and intensify its repercussions. This is a serious problem. Even if Ian never really makes landfall on the western Peninsula, its circulation may still be able to collect a sizeable amount of the region.
When I a makes landfall Tuesday, either in western Cuba or the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, it will have rapidly strengthened into a major hurricane (at least Category 3). The Loop Circulation, a northward current of warm water from the western Caribbean Sea into the southern Gulf of Mexico, is a known fuel supply for severe Gulf storms, and the storm’s path over this water may give it a further boost.
Afterward, it will likely weaken more as it runs into drier air and stronger wind shear. Even if Ian’s winds weaken as it approaches Florida, it may still be a major hurricane with wide-ranging effects.
In light of Ian’s forecast, all parties with a vested stake in the Florida Gulf Coast should immediately begin making preparations for a hurricane. Listen to the advice of local emergency management on whether or not to evacuate, and stock up on supplies in case the outage lasts a while.