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Hurricane Ian Could Bring Prolonged Surge Near Florida

"Life-threatening storm surge is possible along much of the Florida west coast," says the 11 a.m. report from the National Hurricane Center, "with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region."

(TNS) - Hurricane Ian continues to gain strength as it heads to the Gulf of Mexico and targets Florida.

"Life-threatening storm surge is possible along much of the Florida west coast," says the 11 a.m. report from the National Hurricane Center, "with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region."

Ian will continue to rapidly intensify and will remain at or near major hurricane strength as it passes near the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, the NHC said.

Hurricane-force winds are possible on the central Florida coast beginning Wednesday morning and heavy rainfall will spread to central and northern Florida Wednesday and Thursday.

Ian's forward motion is forecast to slow as it moves just off the Florida coast, which the NHC says would likely prolong the storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts.

Florida prepares for a major hurricane

Residents from Naples to the Florida Panhandle are making preparations — boarding up their houses and deciding whether to evacuate as the track of the storm has moved east.

"It should again be stressed that there is still significant uncertainty in the track of Ian, especially in the 3-5 day time frame, and users should not focus on the details of the track forecast at longer time ranges," the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. report Monday.

"I'm scared," a resident of the Clearwater- Tampa Bay area said Monday as the track of the storm moved the high winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge toward that area and Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel reported live.

A hurricane watch has been issued for the Tampa area. On Sunday, landfall was predicted on the Florida Panhandle, and by Monday morning it had moved south to near Tampa.

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore was in Tampa Bay on Sunday and Monday.

Ian is expected to strengthen

Ian, a Category 1 storm, had winds of 80 mph at 11 a.m. EST Monday and was moving northwest at 13 mph.

"The improving eye structure was also reported by an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft that was in the storm overnight," the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. report. The Hurricane Hunters, based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, were unable to find an eye on their flight through the storm Saturday night.

The outer winds bands from Ian are expected to be 5-10 mph when they are felt in South Mississippi Wednesday. No rain is forecast from Ian as a cold front brings temperatures in the low 80s across the Coast later this week.

Large swells and gusty winds are expected to affect the Gulf waters during the middle to end of this work week, according to an alert from Harrison County Emergency Management, and that will result in hazardous conditions across the coastal waters, especially beyond 20 nautical miles from shore Wednesday through Friday. Some waves and swells could reach the open shoreline, resulting in a rip current threat along Grand Isle and Ship Island.

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina will also feel effects from the large storm, the NHC predicts.

Ian is expected to be a major hurricane as it crosses near or over the western edge of Cuba and moves through Gulf of Mexico during the middle of this week, where the NHC says it could become a category 4 storm. Ian is forecast to reach its peak intensity in 36 hours over the southeastern Gulf before wind shear stops it from strengthening.

The combination of the wind shear and drier mid-level air will weaken the storm as it passes near the Florida coastline Wednesday and Thursday.

"Regardless of Ian's exact track and intensity, there is a risk of a life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of this week," the NHC says.

This story was originally published September 26, 2022 7:48 AM.


©2022 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.