The most recent Hurricane Ian update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) shows the Category 3 storm continues to strengthen before its expected landfall on Florida’s west coast on Wednesday.
Hurricane Ian could shape up to be one of the worst hurricanes Florida has ever seen. Storm experts have been eyeing the hurricane since it was first categorized as a tropical depression in the Caribbean several days ago. As the storm intensified, previous models showed a hard impact to the Tampa Bay area, but newer models show the storm’s eye falling further south. Regardless of where the storm hits, impacts will be felt for miles.
2 p.m. Hurricane Update
In NHC’s 2 p.m. EDT update, Hurricane Ian had maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour. The hurricane moves through the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and grows stronger as it progresses. The report showed the storm turned toward the north-northeast and its forward speeds are anticipated to decrease tonight and tomorrow.
“Re-strengthening is expected later today through Wednesday. Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane,” the update said.
Central West Florida is expected to be hit with the most rain, and NHC estimates the area to receive between 12 and 16 inches of rain with isolated totals up to 24 inches. The NHC update warned of “widespread considerable flash and urban flooding” to begin as soon as tomorrow and last throughout the week in central and northern Florida, southern Georgia and coastal South Carolina. The report warned of prolonged river flooding in central and northern Florida.
“Flash and urban flooding are also expected with rainfall across southern Florida through mid week,” the update said. “Limited flash and river flooding is expected over portions of the southeastern United States into the Mid-Atlantic mid-to-late week.”
Other Hurricane-Related Events
Other hurricane-related events will include tornadoes later today through tomorrow in the Florida Keys and southern and central Florida. Winds are expected to be felt in Florida’s southern tip later today and progress through the state Wednesday.
Storm surge is anticipated to be the worst in a western stretch from the middle of Longboat Key to Bonita Beach. Surge could exceed 8 to 12 feet. NHC also issued storm surge warnings for the eastern coast of Florida, as the storm is anticipated to cut across the state and exit into the Atlantic.
The majority of Florida’s west coast is under a storm surge warning, as well as parts of its northeastern coast near Jacksonville.
This morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said 2.5 million Floridians had evacuated their homes. He warned that the storm could be felt throughout the state, including inland communities which could still experience flooding as rivers are inundated with rainwater. He also warned of power outages, wind damage and tornados.
President Joe Biden declared a federal emergency for the state, enabling the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to assist in Florida as needed. The president also postponed a campaign stop in Florida because of the hurricane’s expected impact. DeSantis also declared a statewide emergency, activating 5,000 National Guard members.
The NHC is expected to release its next update at 5 p.m. EDT.
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