As of Monday morning, hurricane watches were in effect for parts of Florida. This comes as Ian strengthens into the fourth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. AccuWeather forecasters have warned that the storm will only grow stronger in the coming days, with predictions that it will become a Category 4 behemoth in the Gulf of Mexico later this week. Those in the affected area are advised to take all necessary precautions and to follow any evacuation orders that may be issued. The Hurricane Center is urging those in the path of Ian to monitor its progress and to have a plan in place in case of severe weather.
Ian Strengthens Into Category 1 Hurricane
As of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Hurricane Ian had sustained winds of up to 75 mph and was moving northwest at 14 mph. Ian was located about 90 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman Island and 275 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, the National Hurricane Center said. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 15 miles from the storm's center, while tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 90 miles.
After a historically quiet start to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, a flurry of tropical activity in the past few weeks has changed the course of the season. Hurricane Ian is the latest storm to form in the Atlantic, and it is already causing waves of strong winds and heavy rain across the Caribbean. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida on Thursday night as a Category 3 storm, bringing with it the potential for widespread damage and flooding.
"A quick uptick in strengthening is expected early this week as Ian moves into the western Caribbean, where low wind shear and very warm water are in place. This will raise the likelihood of significant impacts in the western Caribbean, and eventually the United States," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty explained.
Regardless of Ian's wind speed at landfall, major impacts are likely to come in the form of extremely heavy rain. As is often the case with hurricanes, Ian's heaviest rainfall is expected to fall east of the storm's center. Because of this, cities such as Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville could all have a general 4-8 inches (100-200 mm) of rainfall, with locally higher amounts. Rainfall of this intensity can easily lead to street and river flooding, especially in low-lying areas. In addition to causing property damage, flooding can also lead to loss of life. For these reasons, it is important for people in the path of the storm to take necessary precautions and be prepared for the possibility of severe weather.
"Based on a track with the eye of a major hurricane just offshore of Tampa, the Tampa Bay area can expect a water level rise of 6-10 feet," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
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