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Tropical Storm Ian is expected to quickly turn into a hurricane, which poses a serious threat to Florida

Even though Ian has been slow to form, the FOX Forecast Center predicts that the storm will get stronger in the Caribbean Sea. Much of Florida is in the cone of uncertainty for what is likely to become a major hurricane in the next few days.

As Tropical Storm Ian moves toward the United States, the National Hurricane Center put out a Tropical Storm Warning for the lower Florida Keys. On Monday, they say it will turn into a hurricane.

Before Tropical Storm Ian hits, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told Floridians to be careful and declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties. On Monday and Tuesday, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to get stronger quickly.

The National Hurricane Center says that rapid intensification happens when a tropical cyclone's maximum sustained winds increase by at least 35 mph in 24 hours. A tropical cyclone can be a tropical depression, a tropical storm, or a hurricane.

“Make preparations now,” DeSantis said at a news conference on Sunday. “I know a lot of people have been doing it throughout the state of Florida.”

The projected path and intensity of Tropical Storm Ian.
The projected path and intensity of Tropical Storm Ian.
Fox Weather

"I'm really worried that people won't take the threat seriously, especially in places like Tampa, Naples, and Fort Myers. Acting Director of the NHC, Jamie Rhone, told FOX Weather, "They are looking at the cone or the track, and it looks like it is offshore or west of them, so they are probably downplaying the impact." "But I want those people to know that in this part of the country, it doesn't take a lot of wind to push water onto the coast. Even if the storm moves out to sea, the storm surge could be pretty bad.

Over the weekend, Ian's forecast has moved toward the west. So, while there is still some uncertainty, which is normal this far in advance, here is what the FOX Forecast Center knows about this big hurricane threat to the southeastern U.S. later this week.

Where is Ian the storm?

As of Sunday night, the center of Tropical Storm Ian was about 160 miles south of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands and more than 430 miles from the western tip of Cuba.

Ian was moving northwest at 12 mph with winds going up to 60 mph and staying that way.

"You can see that it doesn't have an eye, but the way the clouds twist and turn is very impressive, so that means there's a lot of structure there," Rhone said. "So, when it moves into a more favorable area, like the northwest Caribbean, where the oceans are very warm, it could quickly get stronger, and all our information shows that's a very likely outcome."

The Hurricane Hunters have several missions planned to gather information about Tropical Storm Ian that will help meteorologists make better predictions.

Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemisa have all been put on Hurricane Watch. According to the NHC track, Ian will be close to the Cayman Islands on Monday. Before entering the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, it could go over or very close to western Cuba Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

When there is a Hurricane Warning, winds of at least 74 mph are expected in the area of the warning. Most of the time, a warning is sent out 36 hours before the first tropical storm-force winds (39 mph or more), which make it hard or dangerous to get ready.

A tracking of Tropical Storm Ian is shown.
A tracking of Tropical Storm Ian is shown.
Fox Weather

The Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Mantanzas are being warned about a tropical storm.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that winds of at least 39 mph are expected in the warning area within 36 hours.

The lower Florida Keys, from Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, are under a Tropical Storm Watch. The Dry Tortugas and Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are also on the watch list.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that winds that last for more than 39 to 73 mph could happen in the storm watch area within 48 hours. How will Tropical Storm Ian affect the weather?

Rapid intensification of Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to begin Monday.

The National Hurricane Center's most recent forecast says that Ian will become a hurricane on Monday and reach major hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher) on Tuesday.

Over the Caribbean Sea, deep, warm waters and calm wind shear (winds that change direction and speed at different heights) should make it easy for Ian to quickly become a major hurricane.

"The Gulf of Mexico has a lot of fuel. Frazer said, "The average temperature is about 87 degrees and the highest temperature is about 89 degrees." "That just makes these hurricanes worse. Hurricanes like it when it's over 80 degrees and there's not much wind. And there is no wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico right now."

The Loop Current, which is a flow of very warm water from the western Caribbean Sea into the southern Gulf of Mexico, could also help Ian get stronger. This current has been known for a long time to be a major source of energy for strong hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

As Ian moves north through the Gulf of Mexico later this week, wind shear is expected to get stronger. This is likely to make the future hurricane weaken as it gets closer to the northern or eastern Gulf Coast at the end of the workweek.

But Ian is expected to be a big hurricane no matter how strong it is, and its forward movement is expected to slow down. This means that Ian will still be a big hurricane threat along the northern or eastern Gulf Coast, no matter what category it is on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

What are the expected impacts of Tropical Storm Ian in the Caribbean?

On Monday, winds of 74 mph or more are expected to reach Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. On Tuesday, winds of 39 mph or more are expected there.

By early Tuesday, winds with the strength of a tropical storm are expected in the areas of Cuba that are under a Tropical Storm Warning.

Also, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands could get between 3 and 6 inches of rain, with some spots getting up to 8 inches.

Even more rain is expected in the western part of Cuba, where totals of 6 to 10 inches are expected and totals of up to 16 inches are possible in some places.

Heavy rain could cause flash floods and mudslides in mountainous and hilly areas, especially in Jamaica and Cuba.

The NHC says that storm surge could raise sea levels 9 to 14 feet above normal tides in western Cuba and 2 to 4 feet above normal tides in the Cayman Islands.

The Florida Keys into south and central Florida could see 2 to 4 inches of rain, up to 6 inches locally between Monday and Wednesday.

North Florida and the Panhandle could see rain Thursday through Saturday.

What threat will Tropical Storm Ian pose to Florida and the US Gulf Coast?

Hurricane On Tuesday, Ian will be turned north into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

But the computer models used to make forecasts show that Ian could go anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to parts of the Florida Peninsula.

"People are so focused on the Saffir-Simpson intensities, the number, and the track. "When a storm like this gets big, it will have effects in many places and push water, rain, and wind in ways that will surprise people," said Rhone. "So I really want everyone on the Florida peninsula to pay attention and think about the dangers, not the Saffir-Simpson scale or the thin black line in the middle of the cone."

In a press conference on Sunday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned that there could be power outages once Tropical Storm Ian gets closer to Florida.

"Expect your power to go out, especially if you live close to where the eye of the storm hits land. This is probably going to happen with a hurricane of this size."

On the map below, each yellow line shows a different answer from a computer forecast model.

Every day, National Weather Service offices all over the country send up extra weather balloons to collect more data for the computer forecast models that meteorologists will use to improve their predictions.

Tropical Storm Ian will move into an area containing an abundant supply of deep, warm waters.
Tropical Storm Ian will move into an area containing an abundant supply of deep, warm waters.
Fox Weather

No matter how strong the next hurricane is when it hits land, the chance of a dangerous storm surge will go up because Ian is expected to get bigger and could move more slowly near the Gulf Coast.

But before it hits Florida or the northern or eastern Gulf Coast, heavy rain will start to fall in the Florida Keys, Central Florida, and South Florida on Monday and last until Wednesday morning. There could be up to 6 inches of rain in a few places. Most likely, it will rain between 2 and 4 inches.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, there could be heavy rain in North Florida, the Florida Panhandle, and the southeastern U.S.

This heavy rain could cause flash flooding and city flooding in the Florida Keys and on the Florida Peninsula through the middle of the week. It's possible that there will be more flooding and river rises in North Florida and parts of the southeastern U.S. later this week. This is especially true in Central Florida, which is already very wet.

Ian is expected to hit Florida or the northern or eastern Gulf Coast. After that, it will either move inland over the southeastern U.S. or move near or along parts of the East Coast.

So, the bottom line is that it's still too early to know exactly where Tropical Storm Ian will go after it hits land. However, there could be threats of wind and flooding rain in other parts of the southeastern and eastern U.S. late this week and into next weekend.

The emergency management agency in Florida is telling people to get ready for the storm now. By putting their address into an interactive map, Floridians can find out if they are in an evacuation zone.

The FOX Forecast Center will keep a close eye on this system as it gets stronger and moves through the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean over the next few days.

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