Hurricane Ian is nearing Florida with every passing day, and residents are wondering exactly when the storm will make landfall. Currently, it’s closest to Cuba and the Florida Keys, with heavy rainfall projected to begin in the Keys on Tuesday.
Meteorologists are predicting life-threatening storm surges along Florida’s west coast, with the worst of it falling between Fort Myers and Tampa Bay. The projected storm cone tracks as follows: Tuesday around 8:00 pm winds will be near 140 mph around the Florida Keys. As Ian moves north on Wednesday it will remain a category 4 storm, keeping that wind speed and moving up the west coast. It’s projected to drop to a category 3 around 8:00 pm on Wednesday, then a category 2 with winds at 102 mph as it hits Tampa Bay on Thursday. There is no guarantee that Hurricane Ian will follow that trajectory, though.
The National Hurricane Center announced that prolonged river flooding is likely for much of Central Florida, along with heavy rainfall and storm surges on the west coast. That area has been put under a Hurricane Watch, from Englewood to the Anclote River and Tampa Bay, according to FOX 13 News. Pinellas County is under a Storm Surge Watch as well, including coastal areas in Sarasota, Hillsborough, and Manatee counties.
Is It Possible for Hurricane Ian to Shift Tracks?
There are a few projected models for Hurricane Ian, predicting where it could travel over the course of the week. But, the chances of Ian not hitting Florida directly are extremely slim.
“In the short-term forecast, there have been very few times, especially in the past decade or so, that in a 24-hour and 36-hour forecast the cone has been wrong, which is literally going to put this as a Category 3 or 4 storm, somewhere west of the Keys,” reported meteorologist Dave Osterberg during the 11 am forecast.
“I do think most of the areas are going to get tropical-storm-force winds,” Osterberg continued. “Who knows? Maybe the track does shift, but at this point, the models are really converging on the west coast of Florida, in general. There is a track error that could be 75-100 miles. So again, 75-100 miles of either side of that line makes a huge difference in the forecast for [Florida]. But it still means impacts – the question we can’t answer is just how much yet.”
FL Governor DeSantis Orders Evacuations for 300,000 Residents
At a press conference this morning, Monday, Sept. 26, Florida governor Ron DeSantis ordered evacuations in parts of Hillsborough County. The evacuations affect an estimated 300,000 residents in the Tampa Bay area.
“This is a really, really big hurricane,” said DeSantis. He noted that Hurricane Ian is stretching about 500 miles and has the potential to impact the entire state. He also warned residents about buying more supplies than they need while preparing. “There’s no need to panic buy,” he said. DeSantis also noted that state officials are working wil retailers to make sure that necessary supplies are kept in stock.