Hurricane Ian is expected to form on Sunday; South Florida may be saved

Tropical Storm Ian is expected to turn into a hurricane on Sunday, then develop into the second major hurricane of the season by midweek.

Ian is expected to cause heavy rain, and flooding especially over western Cuba as a major hurricane, meaning Category 3 or higher.

Western Cuba and Grand Cayman received a hurricane warning on Sunday. Life-threatening storms and hurricane-force winds are expected in parts of western Cuba starting late Monday.

All signs point to Ian arriving in Florida as a weak hurricane. The latest forecasts suggest that Southeast Florida may avoid the initial impact, unlike the rest of the state, where the storm’s likely path shifts north and west.

At 11 a.m., Ian was moving west-northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds remaining at 50 mph. At 11 a.m., it was 300 miles southeast of Grand Cayman and 570 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba.

On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to pass southwest of Jamaica on Sunday, and pass near or west of the Cayman Islands early Monday. Ian will then move near or over western Cuba on Monday night and dawn Tuesday.

If Ian makes landfall in Cuba, it is expected to occur as a major hurricane (sustainable winds of at least 111 mph).

Then it will appear over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

The track forecast has continued to move westward since the last update. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty.

“There is significant spread observed even among members of the GFS group, with locations ranging from the north-central Gulf of Mexico to the west coast of Florida,” the National Hurricane Center said in its fifth advisory Saturday evening.

Heavy rainfall, flash floods and possible mudslides are likely to fall in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, with heavy rains in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the next few days.

This does not mean that South Florida residents should rejoice. The cone can still turn east, and even if it doesn’t, the cone only shows where the center of the hurricane is likely to be, not the chaos it might make.

“I know a lot of South Florida people, they kind of look at the drawing and take that as the holy grail,” Sean Bhatti, a National Weather Service Miami meteorologist, said Saturday afternoon. “But it’s important to remember that there is variability in that and the effects extend far beyond what the cone can show.”

These effects include severe flooding, tropical storm winds, and hurricanes.

Bhatti said the forecast cone of uncertainty where the center of the cyclone would be two-thirds of the time. But slight shifts in the path can make a big difference, and the warmer waters of the Gulf and potential land interaction with Cuba could lead to those shifts.

“This weekend, they have made all the preparations for a possible worst-case scenario,” Bhatti said.

The “reasonable” worst-case scenario at the moment still includes all the impacts associated with a major hurricane. But if the storm continues to shift west, South Florida will only see high waves and high winds.

As the weekend progresses, the path of the hurricane will become increasingly clear. By Sunday night through Monday morning, meteorologists say they will have a better idea of ​​what will happen and whether southern Florida can survive the brunt of the storm.

Governor Ron DeSantis on Saturday amended the state of emergency to include all of Florida. Previously, only 24 counties were issued a state of emergency, including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. The emergency order says the Florida National Guard will be activated and ready to respond as needed.

Warm waters in the Caribbean and Gulf region will strengthen the storm into a hurricane early Sunday, the National Weather Service said Saturday, with “rapid intensification” likely. South Florida could begin to see heavy rain on Monday, posing a risk of limited and limited urban flooding, according to the latest warning.

Meanwhile, tropical storm winds may begin in southern Florida as early as Monday night, but are likely to begin Tuesday evening.

Robert Garcia, a National Weather Service Miami meteorologist, encouraged South Florida residents to prepare over the weekend.

“It’s time to start making those hurricane plans, making sure everyone has all the things they need in their kits, water, and knowing where your insurance papers are,” Garcia said. “Stay attentive to what is happening with the weather forecast. Things will likely progress over the weekend and into early next week where such attention will be necessary.”

The Florida Department of Emergency Management issued a news release Friday announcing that the state was preparing for a potential landfall and urging Florida residents to prepare their homes for the storm.

“It is critical that Florida residents remain vigilant and prepared – it only takes one storm to cause costly or irreversible damage to your home or business,” FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said in the statement.

The National Hurricane Center is also tracking other Atlantic storms.

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Tropical Storm Hermine continues to rain on the Canary Islands on Sunday and is expected to become low, meteorologists said.

What would have been Fiona had weakened beyond the tropical tropics by early Sunday, and the National Hurricane Center was no longer publishing storm warnings.

Fiona was the first major hurricane of the 2022 season, which means Category 3 and up.

Forecasters are also watching for a wide area of ​​low pressure in the Atlantic that has a 20% chance of developing in the next five days, although Ian is the biggest concern.

“The thing to watch is definitely the system moving into the southeastern Caribbean,” said Eric Blake, a forecaster with the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Gaston continues to weaken and is expected to transform into a post-tropical cyclone Sunday morning.

Hurricane season ends on November 30th. And the next storm will be after Ian Julia.

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