Ian Intensifies into a Catastrophic Category-4 Major Hurricane!

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Highlight: Catastrophic Category-4 Major Hurricane Ian!

Fig. 1: Ian has intensified into an angry category-4 major hurricane heading for Florida today.

Fig. 2: NOAA/NHC 5-day forecast track for Category-4 Major Hurricane Ian.

Discussion: Feared intensification of a recurving hurricane has occurred. Since midnight, the lowest pressure has collapsed from 952 to 942 MB indicating Ian is now a catastrophic category-4 major hurricane. The top wind is now near 140 mph. Hurricane force wind extends to 35 miles from the eye. Ian will move inland near Port Charlotte later today without much change in intensity. Currently, Ian is located about 75 miles west-southwest of Naples, FL moving north-northeast at 10 mph.

The deepest water (highest storm surge) will occur along and to the right of where Ian goes inland which exposes Port Charlotte to an 8-12-foot storm surge according to the NOAA/NHC forecast. A surge >15 feet can occur with a category-4 major hurricane and consequently, an over-achieving forecast is possible in this zone. All areas just south of Tampa Bay past Fort Myers can expect a hugely destructive storm surge from this angry storm.

Fresh water flooding from Ian’s rainfall will be immense and widespread. ECM/GFS operational models are slower than tropical cyclone models once Ian is inland which could prolong the heavy rain envelope across Florida surrounding this storm. There is a risk of high spots near 30 in. across central Florida. NOAA/NHC indicates a large swath of 15-20 in. of rain. Immense damage from flooding and river areas will stay flooded/overwhelmed with water for days to weeks ahead.

The heavy rain forecast extends northward into the coastal Carolinas as Ian moves offshore and maintains tropical storm intensity on Friday. A second landfall near Savannah, GA is expected Friday afternoon. Some tropical cyclone models indicate minimum hurricane intensity for Ian off the Southeast Coast on Friday!

Sustained tropical storm force wind will cover almost the entire state except the panhandle as Ian arrives today and slowly moves across the peninsula tonight and Thursday. Hurricane force wind will extend to 30-40 miles either side of Ian at landfall and a good distance inland. Sustained hurricane force wind will reach central Florida.

Fig. 3: NOAA/NHC storm surge forecast. Annotated is the potential >15-foot storm surge potential common during category-4 major hurricanes near where Ian goes inland.

Fig. 4: NOAA/NHC rainfall forecast associated with Category-4 Major Hurricane Ian. ECM/GFS models are slower with Ian across Florida which could force areas of 20-30 in. of rain concentrated on Central Florida.

Fig. 5-6: NOAA/NHC tropical storm/hurricane force wind forecast profiles.

Fig. 7-8: Latest tropical cyclone models track and intensity forecast for Ian.