Potential Hurricane Ian to undergo ‘significant intensification’ near Florida

Tropical Depression Nine formed from the system in the southeast Caribbean on Friday and forecast models show the system turning north, passing over Cuba and heading toward the Gulf of Mexico and reaching Florida as major Hurricane Ian by the middle of next week.

According to the latest forecast models, South Florida is in the cone of the potential Category 3 storm.

“It looks like it’s going to end up being a major hurricane,” said Will Redman, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service Miami.

Warm waters in the Caribbean and the Gulf could help strengthen the storm into a hurricane. Forecasters expect it to become a hurricane by Monday morning, the center’s latest advisory said.

At that point, forecasts show the storm approaching Florida.

“Significant impacts, if any, from the storm would likely not begin until Monday night, and more likely beginning on Tuesday,” the National Weather Service Miami said in a 5 p.m. update.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 24 counties Friday, including South Florida, Monroe County, as far north as Brevard County and several counties on the west coast. The Florida National Guard will be activated and on standby to respond as needed, the emergency order says.

“The current forecast shows a potential hurricane, even a major hurricane at some point as it gets close to Florida,” said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with National Weather Service Miami, on Friday afternoon.

He encouraged South Floridians to keep alert over the weekend.

“It’s time to start getting those hurricane plans out, making sure everyone has all the things they need in their kits, water, know where your insurance papers are,” Garcia said. “Stay attentive to what’s going on with the forecast. Things are probably going to progress through the weekend and into early next week where that attention will necessary.”

The National Weather Service Miami wrote in its Friday morning briefing that “all tropical threats are in play” in South Florida, including damaging winds, storm surges, flooding and tornadoes.

“There is still a healthy amount of uncertainty in the track forecast at the day 4-5 timeframe,” said National Hurricane Center specialist Phillipe Papin.

Tropical Storm Hermine formed Friday by 5 p.m. from Tropical Depression Ten several hundred miles east of the African coast, the center’s latest advisory said. Hermine is moving north-northwest at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

Hermine could strengthen through Saturday but is expected to weaken beginning Sunday and dissipate early next week, the 8 p.m. update said. Its current path does not show it reaching land.

In its 8 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the storm expected to become Ian is moving west-northwest at 15 mph. It was 410 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica and 720 miles east-southeast of Grand Cayman.

Experts expect it will move more westward over the next day or so before turning back west-northwest and then northwest over the weekend and Monday.

Forecasters said heavy rains could start to reach South Florida on Monday, presenting a risk of limited flash and urban flooding, the latest advisory said.

Maximum sustained wind speeds are close to 35 mph with higher gusts. It is projected to become Tropical Storm Ian by Saturday, and there will be “significant intensification” Sunday and Monday, the center’s 8 p.m. update said.

Hurricane watches were issued as of 5 p.m. for the Cayman Islands while Jamaica is under a tropical storm watch. The storm will pass south of Jamaica on Saturday night and Sunday and move toward the Cayman Islands on Sunday night and Monday morning.

The five-day path has it hooking north by Tuesday over Cuba and then parked off Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds and gusts of 130 mph by Wednesday morning.

Tropical Depression Nine will likely drop heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and possible mudslides in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, with heavy rains in Jamaican and the Cayman Islands coming in the next few days.

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management issued a press release Friday morning announcing that the state is preparing for potential landfall and urging Floridians to prepare their homes for the storm.

“It is critical that Floridians remain vigilant and prepared — it only takes one storm to cause costly or irreversible damage to your home or business,” said FDEM director Kevin Guthrie in the release.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Fiona weakened to a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds as of the 8 p.m. advisory.

The storm is 215 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, moving north at 46 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center advisory.

Meanwhile, the Bermuda Weather Service has discontinued Bermuda’s Tropical Storm Warning.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in Canada Friday night, with the center of the storm approaching Nova Scotia. Several parts of Canada are under a hurricane warning as of 8 p.m. Friday, including parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Fiona is the first major hurricane of the 2022 season, meaning Category 3 and above.

Forecasters are also monitoring another system in the Atlantic. A broad area of low pressure in the Atlantic has a 30% chance of developing in the next five days, though Tropical Depression Nine is the biggest concern.

“The one to watch is definitely the system moving into the southeastern Caribbean,” said Eric Blake, a forecaster for the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Gaston is expected to gradually weaken over the next few days as of the Friday 8 p.m. advisory. The storm is expected to move over the Azores today, 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal.

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30. The next named storm after Ian would be Julia.