Ian Upgraded To Hurricane, Poses Major Threat To Florida

Hurricane Ian is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane in the next few hours before making landfall in Cuba and eventually affecting the U.S. gulf coast.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 24 counties in Florida followed by President Biden declaring an emergency for the state on September 24.

DeSantis tweeted, “I encourage all Floridians to continue to monitor the storm and listen to local officials.” While the storm is still hundreds of miles away from Florida, the forecast path continues to grow in certainty and it seems likely that Florida will be affected.

“It’s important to point out to folks that the path of this is still uncertain. The impacts will be broad throughout the state of Florida. Expect heavy rains, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surge and even isolated tornadoes. Make preparations now,” DeSantis said.

The National Hurricane Center’s most up-to-date forecast shows Ian should make landfall as a major hurricane in Cuba early Tuesday morning. After moving across the island, it is expected to continue to increase for 24 hours followed by shearing that will weaken the cyclone prior to making landfall in Florida.

One of the unique characteristics of this storm is that it is expected to weaken as it arrives in the shallower and warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. After strengthening just north of Cuba to a major hurricane, there is expected to be some southwesterly shear that will weaken Ian prior to making landfall.

This is unique because while the intensity of the actual hurricane could be a category 1 or 2, the intensity of the storm surge associated with Ian could remain a category 4 when it makes landfall in Florida.

According to CNN, “Florida’s Division of Emergency Management was particularly focused on the storm surge threat cautioning that whatever surge develops while Ian is a major hurricane could persist as it nears land, even if the storm weakens.”

Ian could be even more dangerous in Florida because, according to one Florida newspaper, Hurricane Ian could be the first major storm to make direct landfall in Florida since 2018.

What is clear is that Hurricane Ian could be even more dangerous than it looks bringing inches of rainfall and a storm surge that is more powerful than people would expect from a cyclone of Ian’s size and intensity.