Ian forms, expected to become major hurricane
Tropical Storm Ian developed in the Caribbean late Friday and is expected to intensify over the weekend becoming a hurricane, potentially impacting Florida this upcoming workweek as a major hurricane.
Ian is the 9th named system of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The storm is expected to intensify as it moves into an environment with less wind shear and warm ocean waters. The uptick in intensity and organization has already been realized from Friday morning to Friday night. Wind shear has lessened over the region, which bumped the depression up to a storm.
The National Hurricane Center is calling for strengthening to continue over the coming days becoming a hurricane by the late weekend (Sunday night). Intensification is expected to continue once Ian crosses over western Cuba late Monday, and it's quite possible Ian could undergo rapid intensification (increased maximum sustained winds of 35 mph within a 24-hour window) once the system enters the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. At that point, the hurricane could reach major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher—winds at or greater than 111 mph) off the southwestern Florida coast on Tuesday or early Wednesday.
While there are questions on the intensity and track, Ian does pose a significant threat to the U.S. The National Hurricane Center and forecast models strongly suggest the hurricane will bring impacts to South Florida and the Florida Peninsula, potentially making landfall as a major Category 3 hurricane in Florida either overnight Tuesday or Wednesday somehwere between Tampa and Cape Coral.
With this current forecast, parts of Florida can expect storm surge, freshwater flooding from heavy rain, hurricane-force winds, and isolated tornadoes. Because of the significant threat and likelihood of impacts, a State of Emergency has been issued for parts of Florida. Florida residents should begin preparing to evacuate if local officials and authorities give the order. Keep in mind, there are questions on the track and intensity so Floridians need to keep a close eye on the National Hurricane Center's forecast and forecasts from their local media outlets to help protect property and lives.
Ian could bring impacts to the Southeastern U.S. and East Coast from the late week into next weekend but there is too much uncertainty in the forecast evolution of this system to make a definitive call. All residents in the Southeast and East Coast should keep a close eye on future forecasts.