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The latest forecast from the NWS National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Ian paints an ominious picture for state of Florida.
Hurricane Ian passed over Cuba hurricane Monday night before emerging in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico as a powerful category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and higher gusts.
Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane Wednesday into Wednesday night, bringing with it hurricane-force winds, heavy rains, considerable floding, and life-threatening storm surge to the central Gulf Coast of Florida from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay area.
As of 11 a.m. Eastern Time, Hurricane Ian was located about 305 miles south-southwest of Sarasota, Florida, moving toward the north at 10 mph. A turn toward the north-northeast forecast tonight and Wednesday along with a eyebrow-raising reduction in forward speed.
By 3 p.m. ET, the minimum pressure had decreased to 952 millibars.
The National Weather Service published a great thread Twitter thread highlighting some of the dangers associated with the storm.
The well-defined eye of Ian emerged off the coast of western Cuba about an hour ago, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100kt/115mph — a category three hurricane.
Life-threatening storm surge looks increasingly likely along much of the FL west coast where a storm surge warning is in effect, with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region. Listen to advice given by local officials and follow evacuation orders.
Hurricane-force winds are expected in the hurricane warning area in southwest and west-central Florida beginning Wednesday morning with tropical storm conditions expected by this evening. Residents should rush all preparations to completion today.
Heavy rainfall will increase across the Florida Keys and south Florida today, spreading into central and northern Florida tonight and Wednesday, into the Southeast U.S. by Thursday and Friday, likely causing flash, urban, and small stream flooding.
Considerable flooding is expected across central Florida into southern Georgia and coastal South Carolina, with widespread, prolonged moderate to major river flooding expected across central Florida.
As you can see below, the eye of Hurricane Ian is now well-defined:
The U.S. Coast Guard is also preparing for the storm, conducting a pre-storm overflight of the Tampa Bay area and staging assets in Freeport, Bahamas for storm avoidance and relief efforts once the storm has passed.
The U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) has now ordered Port Condition ZULU for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Manatee, and Fort Myers due to the possibility of gale force winds (34-47 mph) entering the Tampa Bay area within 12 hours. ZULU means no vessel movements and port waterfront operations unless previously authorized by the COTP.
Here’s another look at Ian’s eye developing this morning:
Here’s another look showing lightning:
NASA has now moved its Artemis I rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center to ride out the storm.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place in counties along the Florida Gulf Coast. Check FloridaDisaster.org for the latest evacuation orders.
Some oil and gas producers have started shutting in wells in the Gulf of Mexico.
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