- Ian was named a tropical storm late Friday in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
- Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Ian to strengthen rapidly in the central Caribbean over the weekend.
- The storm’s track continued to veer westward towards Florida’s panhandle.
Forecasters have predicted that Tropical Storm Ian could intensify rapidly in the central Caribbean region and could become the first Atlantic hurricane to hit the mainland U.S. this hurricane season, with an anticipated arrival in Florida during the middle of next week.
The storm’s track continued to veer westward towards Florida’s panhandle on Saturday, according to National Weather Service forecasts. The Weather Service’s cone forecast also shows the storm is expected to go from being a hurricane to a major hurricane off Cuba’s western coast late Monday. “Because of very warm waters and a forecasted minimal amount of disruptive winds, there is the potential for the system to undergo rapid strengthening…” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
Here’s what the National Hurricane Center expects in the next few days:
- The storm should pass southwest of Jamaica on Sunday.
- It is expected to become a hurricane around Sunday night.
- Ian’s track will be near the Cayman Islands and Cuba on Monday.
- Early next week, the Florida Keys and South Florida may see heavy rains.
Ian could be a major hurricane for much of Tuesday and Wednesday, when it starts moving northward across the Gulf of Mexico. Ian could downgrade from major hurricane — a Category 3 or stronger with winds of at least 111 mph to hurricane by the time it reaches Florida Wednesday into Thursday. But, the Weather Service said, “uncertainty in the track forecast is higher than usual.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a pre-landfall state of emergency for the entire state on Saturday afternoon. “Floridians should remain vigilant and ensure their households are prepared for a potential impact” DeSantis said.
John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist with National Hurricane Center in Miami, shared a message: It’s “too soon to say if it’s going to be a southeast Florida problem or a central Florida problem or just the entire state” he said. “So at this point really the right message for those living in Florida is that you have to watch forecasts…” he added. NASA has also decided to call off a Tuesday launch attempt due to impacts from the storm.
Ian’s Prophesied Trajectory
Jamaica is expected to see progressively heavier downpours and increasing winds Saturday and Sunday. Then, the storm is forecast to more directly hit the Cayman Islands and Cuba early in the week. The storm is likely to hit western Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane or stronger, AccuWeather forecasters said. The country may see 6 to 10 inches of rainfall with local maximums up to 14 inches, the National Hurricane Center forecast. Heavy rain may cause flash flooding and mudslides in Jamaica and Cuba, along with a risk of widespread power outages and torrential rain.
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