Tropical Storm Ian remains disorganized, but not for long.
The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph at 4 p.m. CST Sunday, is expected to strengthen overnight and become a Category 1 hurricane by Monday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.
Ian’s track shifted east again for the 4 p.m. advisory, with more of Florida in the “cone of uncertainty” and a projected landfall east of the Panhandle.
Landfall is hard to predict so many days out, and the track could easily change again in the next few days.
“Users are reminded not to focus on the details of the track forecast at longer time ranges, since uncertainty is still high and future adjustments may be required,” the NHC said.
Weather conditions in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico support rapid intensification, and Ian is expected to be a Category 2 early Tuesday morning as it approaches western Cuba and to emerge in the Gulf as a major hurricane.
Ian will churn near Florida in the Gulf for at least two full days before landfall, the NHC predicts. Strong wind sheer will likely downgrade Ian from a major hurricane before landfall. But the storm will also slow down in the Gulf, which will create issues.
Ian “will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts across portions of the Florida west coast and the Florida panhandle,” the NHC said.
The NOAA Hurricane Hunters will leave Keesler Air Force Base later Sunday and fly over the Caribbean to investigate Ian. National Weather Service centers across the U.S. are also sending out weather balloons to study the system and help the NHC better predict the path.
The @NHC_Atlantic has asked us along with many other National Weather Service offices across the United States to launch extra weather balloons in an effort to improve weather model forecasts for Tropical Storm #Ian. #Hurricane #mowx #kswx pic.twitter.com/MvDpztKfgx
— NWS Springfield (@NWSSpringfield) September 25, 2022
The Mississippi Coast and and all of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina will likely feel tropical storm or hurricane force winds from Ian.