A tropical depression brewing in the Caribbean could form into Hurricane Ian this weekend as it heads towards Florida, according to forecasts from the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service (NWS) Tampa Bay.
"Probably in the next couple of days, it could go into a Tropical Storm," said Christianne Pearce, a meteorologist at NWS Tampa. "Then it's going to start to kind of move more west and eventually turn north."
Hurricane Guide 2022: What do you need to know?
Pearce said the tropical depression is currently predicted to near the Sarasota-Manatee area of Florida's coast as a hurricane early to mid-next week.
"The track is still kind of uncertain. The center (of the storm) wobbles in the early stages. We're also not sure that it'll certainly make that turn towards Florida."
The latest information from the National Hurricane Center casts a cone of uncertainty encompassing all of south Florida.
"Since most of the peninsula is within the cone, the center could fall anywhere," Pearce said.
If Tropical Depression Nine becomes a named storm, it would likely be called Ian, since another storm in the eastern Atlantic will likely develop into a Tropical Storm more quickly and take the name Hermine.
Manatee County partially activates Emergency Operations Center
Bill Logan, the information outreach manager for the county, said Manatee County is partially activating their Emergency Operations Center this afternoon, but without permanent staff for now, referring to it as a move of extraordinary caution.
"We've been in contact with the emergency officials on the state level. We're monitoring this in a very certain way," Logan said to the Herald-Tribune. "We're urging our residents to begin making their preparations."
There are no sandbag locations determined as of now, according to Logan.
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Logan advised Manatee County residents to sign up for emergency alerts by texting "MANATEEREADY" to 88877. Also, those with special needs (such as those dependent on supplemental oxygen or electricity for survival) should visit mymanatee.org/needs to register ahead of time for evacuation transportation or shelter assistance.
"It's going to be a lot of waiting, watching and seeing which way the storm ends. Don't ignore this storm. It may have a significant impact on us by next week."
Sarasota County issues statement
Sarasota County officials put out a statement on social media Friday, stating they are monitoring the storm's progression.
(1/2) Sarasota County’s Emergency Operations Center is actively monitoring Tropical Depression 9.
Sarasota County continues to communicate with local, state & federal partners, including the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.#SRQCountyES https://t.co/UYtYhJA0sg
— SCG Emergency Services (@scgovEOC) September 23, 2022
"As the path and intensity of the depression remain uncertain, all of Sarasota County is encouraged to review their emergency preparedness plans in the event the storm will have an impact on our community," part of the statement said.
"We're not activated (for an emergency) just yet," said Brianne Grant, a media relations officer for the county. "We're monitoring all activity and recommend residents to review their plans, prepare go-kits and visit our website for storm checklists and tips.
Community members can visit scgov.net/beprepared for preparedness information and updates from Sarasota County. To sign up for emergency alerts and notifications from Sarasota County, go to AlertSarasotaCounty.com.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Sarasota and Manatee County officials eye potential Hurricane Ian