Weather

Tropical Storm Ian Forecast to Strengthen Into Hurricane With Florida in Its Sights UPDATED

Update published 1 p.m. 9/25/2022: Tropical Storm Ian's forecast track shifted further west over the weekend, with the storm now expected to deliver a direct strike to the Florida Panhandle or west coast of the state by Friday, September 30.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects Ian to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane by Tuesday, September 27, reaching sustained wind speeds of more than 110 mph before it arrives in western Cuba.

Cuba will experience life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds beginning late Monday evening, according to the NHC.

The track models diverge on the issue of where the storm will head once it passes over Cuba and into the Gulf of Mexico. Some models show the storm headed towards the Florida Panhandle, while others indicate the storm will veer off and directly strike west-central Florida, as far south as Sarasota. 

Miami-Dade County is out of the National Hurricane Center's forecast cone for a direct hit. The NHC estimates, however, that southeastern Florida, including southern portions of Miami-Dade, may experience 4 to 6 inches of rainfall. 

"Flash and urban flooding is possible across the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula through mid-week," the NHC's Sunday 11 a.m. advisory stated.

As of Sunday morning, Ian had sustained winds of 50 mph. It is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flooding in Jamaica as it passes to the south of the island nation.

"A gradual turn to the northwest is expected later today as the cyclone passes well southwest of Jamaica, followed by a north-northwestward motion that brings the center of Ian west of the Cayman Islands on Monday and near or over western Cuba by early Tuesday," the NHC stated in its September 25 11 a.m. advisory.

The NHC is imploring residents in Cuba and Florida to have a hurricane plan in place and monitor forecast updates in the coming days.

Jamie Rhome, acting NHC director, said that Ian may strike Florida as a Category 3 hurricane.

"I'm a Floridian too, so I'm gonna speak to you candidly — don't panic. We are still in the early stages of this event," Rhome said on Friday, September 23. "We have some time. That said, if you are watching us from Florida — and I practice what I preach — you really need to start going through your hurricane supplies, making sure you have everything on hand."

click to enlarge
The National Hurricane Center's September 25 11 a.m. forecast track for Tropical Storm Ian.
Forecast by National Hurricane Center
The last major hurricane to directly strike Florida was Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018. The storm reached Category 5 strength, with 160 mph sustained winds, before it ravaged Mexico Beach, Panama City and the surrounding area in the Florida Panhandle. Michael was the first Category 5 storm to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hurricane Irma in September 2017 was the last major hurricane to directly hit South Florida. The massive storm was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in the Florida Keys, with tropical storm-force winds extending 400 miles out from the eye. The hurricane caused an estimated $50 billion in damage in Florida, making it one of the costliest U.S. storms on record, according to the National Hurricane Center.
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Alex DeLuca is a staff writer at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca