Hurricane Ian expected to become Category 3 soon, could bring 'catastrophic' damage to Florida

Floridians are bracing for what could be 'catastrophic' damage from Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian became a Category 2 storm Monday afternoon and strengthened slightly Monday night to 105 mph winds. Ian is forecast to rapidly strengthen into a Category 4, according to the National Hurricane Center.

If the storm struck Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, it could cause "catastrophic" damage, and power outages could last weeks or possibly months, according to the National Weather Service.

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Excessive rainfall forecast

“Even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned.

Exactly where Ian will make landfall remains uncertain, but most of Florida remains in the cone of uncertainty. Hurricane watches, tropical storm watches and storm surge watches have been issued for the Florida Keys and portions of the state's West Coast.

DeSantis has declared a statewide state of emergency, urging residents to load up on food, water, medicine, batteries and fuel.

Hurricane Ian: Ian reaches hurricane strength, could become 'catastrophic' Category 4 storm targeting Florida

Hurricane Ian: Hurricane watch issued for portions of Florida's West Coast

Expect heavy rains, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surge and even isolated tornadoes. Make preparations now," he said Sunday. "Anticipate power outages. That is something that is likely to happen with a hurricane of this magnitude."

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center also is monitoring a tropical wave in the central Atlantic that is expected to become a tropical depression by mid week.

Here's the latest update from the NHC as of 11 p.m. Sept. 26, 2022:

Hurricane Ian: Where is it and where will it go?

  • Location: 105 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba

  • Maximum wind speed: 105 mph

  • Direction:  North-northwest at 13 mph

At 11 p.m. EDT, the center of Hurricane Ian was located near latitude 21.3 North, longitude 83.4 West.

Ian is moving toward the north-northwest near 13 mph. A turn toward the north with a slightly slower forward speed is expected on Tuesday. A turn toward the north-northeast with a further reduction in forward speed is forecast on Wednesday.

On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move near or over western Cuba overnight and early Tuesday. Ian will then emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday into Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 105 mph with higher gusts. Rapid strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Ian is forecast to become a major hurricane overnight or early Tuesday when it is near western Cuba, and remain a major hurricane over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles. An amateur radio operator recently reported that an automated weather station at Cayo Largo, Cuba measured a wind gust of 46 mph during the last couple of hours.

Weather watches and warnings issued

If you can't see any local weather warnings here, you'll need to open this story in a web browser.

A hurricane warning is in effect for:

  • Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemisa

A hurricane watch is in effect for:

  • Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay

  • Bonita Beach to Englewood


A storm surge watch is in effect for:

  • Florida Keys from the Card Sound Bridge westward to Key West

  • Dry Tortugas

  • Florida Bay

  • Saint Johns River

  • Anclote River southward to the Card Sound Bridge

  • Altamaha Sound to Flagler/Volusia County Line

A tropical storm warning is in effect for:

  • Grand Cayman

  • Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas

  • Lower Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge westward to Key West

  • Flamingo to Englewood

A tropical storm watch is in effect for:

  • Lower Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge to the Channel 5 Bridge

  • Jupiter Inlet to Altamaha Soun

  • North of the Suwannee River to Indian Pass

What else is out there and where is it?

Tropical wave: Shower and thunderstorm activity has changed little in organization today associated with an area of low pressure located several hundred miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands.

Colorado State University's 2-week forecast for Sept. 15-28

Colorado State University's hurricane forecast Sept. 15-28 gives the highest odds for above-normal activity — 50% — with lower odds for normal — 40% — and below-normal  — 10%.

When is the Atlantic hurricane season?

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

When is the peak of hurricane season?

Hurricane season's ultimate peak is Sept. 10 but the season goes through Nov. 30. Credit: NOAA
Hurricane season's ultimate peak is Sept. 10 but the season goes through Nov. 30. Credit: NOAA

Although the season has gotten off to a quiet start, the peak of the season is Sept. 10, with the most activity happening between mid-August and mid-October, according to the Hurricane Center.

Tropical forecast next five days

See the National Hurricane Center's five-day graphical tropical weather outlook below.

Excessive rainfall forecast

What's out there?

Systems currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.

What's next?

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This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Tropics watch: Hurricane Ian strengthens to Category 2