It was about Ian 255 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica Saturday 6 pm According to the National Hurricane Center, it is moving west at 16 mph. “There will be significant strengthening in the next few days,” the center said.
The forecast shows Ian “as a major hurricane over the eastern Gulf as it approaches the west coast of Florida,” after briefly passing Cuba at or near major hurricane strength, the center said Friday. According to the Hurricane Center’s most recent forecast cones, the entire Florida panhandle and nearly the entire west coast of the state could be at risk.
After strengthening overnight, Ian — previously known as Tropical Depression Nine — has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) and is forecast to reach hurricane status within the next two days as it approaches the Cayman Islands early Monday morning.
Ian is then expected to rapidly intensify into a Category 3 hurricane before reaching western Cuba early Tuesday morning. Conditions are very favorable for strengthening and the National Hurricane Center’s forecast now brings Ian to a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
“As Ion is not expected to remain in Cuba for long, little weakening is expected due to that land contact,” the hurricane center explained.
Forecast models vary by Saturday afternoon over where Ian makes landfall on Florida’s coast. The European model shows landfall near Tampa on Thursday morning, while the US model shows landfall near Pensacola on Friday morning. There also continues to be considerable uncertainty on the track into the middle of next week.
The official hurricane center track splits the difference between the models and shows landfall north of Tampa on Thursday morning.
“Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the National Hurricane Center, has evaluated weather forecasts and determined that there is a continuing risk of dangerous storm surge, heavy rain, flash flooding, strong winds, hazardous seas and isolated hurricane activity for Florida. The peninsula and Florida Big Bend, North Florida and Northeast parts of Florida,” the order says.
Under a statewide emergency order, members of the Florida National Guard will be activated and on standby for orders.
President Joe Biden on Saturday approved a disaster declaration for the tropical storm, which is forecast to reach the state as a hurricane later this week.
“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts aimed at alleviating the hardship and suffering of local populations,” the White House said. A press release.
Ian is Florida’s first major hurricane in four years
A hurricane warning has been issued for Grand Cayman, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Little Cayman and Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. A tropical storm watch has been discontinued for Jamaica.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a news release. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to monitor the potential impacts of this storm.”
Forecasters are urging residents to prepare
It was a slow start to what was forecast to be an above-average hurricane season. Only one storm made landfall in the US, and no hurricanes made landfall or threatened adjacent states.
Now, a week past the peak of hurricane season, the tropics appear to be waking up, and forecasters worry that people have let their guard down.
“After a slow start, the Atlantic hurricane season has picked up quickly,” tweeted Bill Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.
“People let their guard down and think, oh, yeah, we’re out of the woods,” hurricane center spokeswoman Maria Torres told CNN. “But really, the season continues. We’re still in September; there’s still October. Anything that develops over the Atlantic or the Caribbean is something we have to watch very closely.”
The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.
Regardless, if you live in the Caribbean, Florida, and other states along the Gulf Coast, pay attention to updated forecasts this weekend and early next week.
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