ROANOKE, Va. – Update - Wednesday 7 a.m.
Recent data from hurricane hunter aircraft reveals that the wind outside Ian’s eye has reached 155 mph at the surface. This is two mph away from becoming a Category 5 at the worst possible time.
The storm is poised to make landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast Wednesday afternoon, bringing with it life-threatening storm surge along the coast and flooding.
Update - Wednesday 5 a.m.
Ian is now an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane nearing the coast of Florida. Landfall is expected Wednesday afternoon.
Update - Wednesday 2 a.m.
Similar to Hurricane Charley in 2004, Ian has made a bit of a right turn - taking its projected landfall from Tampa farther south toward the Port Charlotte-Cape Coral-Fort Myers area.
This is expected to happen Wednesday afternoon, with Ian being either a Category 3 or 4 storm. Aside from the wind, coastal storm surge and flooding will be main threats down that way.
Ian will weaken and move very slowly once over land, giving us rainy/showery weather from Friday evening through early next week.
Update - Tuesday 2 a.m.
In less than 24 hours, Ian has gone from a high-end tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane right along Cuba’s west coast. The storm will continue to move north into the Gulf, where it will strengthen in the coming days.
Landfall occurs Thursday near Tampa, Florida. The storm will then move over land, where it will weaken and stall for a few days.
This, for us, means periods of rain. Most of the rain comes Saturday, with the potential for thunderstorms east of the Parkway the second half of the day.
Update - Monday 8 a.m.
Ian has since been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane south of Cuba. The storm will essentially “split the goalposts” between Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, strengthening into a major hurricane while riding north into the Gulf of Mexico.
Landfall is likely at some point Thursday along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The storm moves northward, bringing periods of rain to our are Friday night through Sunday.
Any westward track would result in more rain/the possibility of severe weather this weekend.
Update - Sunday 5 p.m.
Ian remains a tropical storm with winds of 45 mph. But it is expected to strengthen tonight into tomorrow, likely becoming a hurricane on Monday.
Ian is expected to bring significant wind and storm surge to western Cuba, then head into the Gulf of Mexico where it looks to have its eye on the Big Bend/Panhandle of Florida. However, the cone of uncertainty is pretty large, meaning most of Florida will want to keep a close watch on where Ian is headed.
Once it makes landfall it will move northward, likely bringing us some rain and wind beginning Friday, lasting into next weekend.
Please stay tuned to Your Local Weather Authority for the latest on Tropical Storm Ian.
Late Saturday/Early Sunday Update
Tropical Storm Ian has winds of 45 m.p.h but is expected to quickly strengthen the next few days as it moves west across the Caribbean Sea. It will likely become a hurricane before grazing the western tip of Cuba.
From there it will head to Florida perhaps as a major hurricane…but where in Florida? Naples (less of a chance now)? Tampa (maybe)? Panama City Beach (a higher chance now). That’s the biggest question right now.
The track has trended farther west over the last couple of computer model runs. And simply put, if the storm system keeps trending west, that will put us here locally in a higher chance for some tropical rain (remnant moisture) and wind late this week/early next weekend.
Stay tuned as Your Local Weather Authority continues to track this system.
Tropical Storm Ian formed in the Caribbean late Friday night, and it is now a focal point for the U.S.
Official Track Forecast
Specifically, the National Hurricane Center’s track takes the storm toward Florida’s Gulf Coast (centered near Tampa) by mid-to-late next week.
That said, the forecast cone shows that landfall is possible anywhere from around Naples/Fort Myers to Tallahassee.
What’s Influencing Ian’s track?
Ian will be sandwiched in between high pressure around Bermuda and low pressure over the Eastern U.S. This position means that the East Coast needs to be watching the storm closely later next week (around 9/29 and 9/30).
The strength and the location of the high and the low will determine where exactly the storm goes beyond Florida.
As with any storm that’s six-to-seven days away, there’s room for speculation.
How Could Ian Impact Us?
A track closer to the coast would put us on the drier, cooler side of the storm, while a track farther inland would result in a wetter and windier Friday for us next week.
Saturday morning’s forecast data shows a wetter track.
Once the storm becomes more defined and NOAA’s hurricane hunters can inspect it more, forecast data will become more reliable and we can diagnose local impacts with more accuracy.
If we can get the rain without flooding or high winds, that would set the stage for a great foliage season!
We spoke with an expert from Virginia Tech for his perspective on this year’s foliage outlook.