The National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Tuesday warned those in the path of the incoming Hurricane Ian that the storm is expected to be “an extremely dangerous major hurricane” when it arrives in Florida sometime on Wednesday.
As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the NHC said that the storm was about 265 miles south of Sarasota, Florida, producing winds of up to 120 mph. All of the NHC’s advisories, including a Hurricane Warning for the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemesia, along with the Florida area between Bonita Beach and Anclote River, which includes Tampa, are still in effect.
The NHC is expecting the storm to turn toward the north-northeast and slow down Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. It is then forecasting the storm to pass west of the Florida Keys, and then approach the west coast of Florida within that Hurricane Warning area on Wednesday and Wednesday night.
“Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane,” the NHC said.
From there, according to the latest model from the NHC, the storm could slow down when it moves north-northeast through Florida, bringing major, slow-moving rainfall to areas across the Florida peninsula. See below for rainfall estimates from the NHC:
The rainfall from Ian is expected to reach up to 8 inches in the Florida Keys and South Florida, up to 16 inches in Central West Florida, and up to 10 inches in Northeast Florida. Other areas in the southeastern United States could then see heavy rainfall on Friday and Saturday.
Already on Tuesday, two major Florida airports on the state’s Gulf Coast announced closures. Tampa International Airport has suspended all operations beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 due to the storm. The airport, in a statement, said that the “closure will allow the airport to prepare the airfield and terminals, including the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment, and any remaining aircraft.”
The area’s other airport, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, also suspended operations. That airport will close at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27 due to those mandatory evacuation orders from Pinellas County. The plan is for St. Pete-Clearwater to “remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted.”
Disney, maybe the biggest name in tourism in the state, also announced that it would close all four of its theme parks this week because of Ian's expected impact.
And several cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, have made changes to itineraries.