SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — While the tropics are starting to get their act together with four named systems and one tropical disturbance, our attention is on Tropical Storm Ian. Ian formed overnight as the storm has been able to get organized. It is expected to become a major hurricane as it approaches the Florida Peninsula next week. Stormteam 3 will be closely monitoring Ian over the coming days.
As of the 5 a.m. Saturday advisory from the NHC, Tropical Storm Ian has sustained winds of 45 mph and wind gusts as high as 60 mph. It is located 315 miles SE of Kingston, Jamaica. Movement is to the west at 14 mph.
The westerly wind shear that has been keeping Ian’s strength and intensity at bay is slowly weakening. Wind shear rips a storm apart; a lack of wind shear is only going to allow Ian to strengthen quickly over the warm Caribbean waters. It is expected to become a strong tropical storm by Sunday morning and intensify into a hurricane by Monday.
Ian is currently moving on the southern end of a big area of high pressure, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean sea. As it moves around it, Ian will gradually move towards the northwest late this weekend and then turn towards the north as it approaches Cuba by Tuesday morning.
Because of Ian’s increasing forecasted forward speed as it passes over Cuba, the mountainous Island is not expected to have much impact on the storm. While it might slightly weaken it due to some land interaction, it will then enter the southern Gulf of Mexico. Here is where rapid intensification is expected. This will lead to Ian possibly becoming a major hurricane prior to reaching landfall along the western Florida coast.
The exact path will be determined by how quickly Ian becomes stronger and the forward speed. Also the placement of the Bermuda high and a trough of low pressure that is expected to dip into the southeast next week.
Uncertainty remains with the track, intensity, and speed. Ian will slowly move in between a weakness area in between two high pressure systems. This will lead to a lack of steering patterns. This will allow for Ian to continue moving towards the north during the early part of the week.
One thing that will steer the storm will be a cold front. This will be the same cold front that passes through the Coastal Empire & Lowcountry on Tuesday. This cold front will steer Ian towards the Florida coast Wednesday. We will be watching to see how the cold front interacts with Ian.
A stronger cold front will bring Ian towards Florida faster, leading to a faster easterly turn. A slower or weakening cold front will bring Ian towards Florida slower, leading to a slower easterly turn. The cold front also could stall.
It is possible for the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry to feel impacts from this system late next week. If we do see anything, it is looking like it will be Thursday into the weekend However, it is too soon to forecast with certainty what we may experience. A lot of factors can and will change with this system. The bottom line is that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible in Georgia and South Carolina late next week.
So it’s a good idea to spend this weekend preparing just in case. Get your hurricane kit together. Think of your plan. Stay up to date on the latest forecasts. Storms like this are always a good reminder that during hurricane season, you should have your supply kit and plan ready to go at anytime.
Storm Team 3 will be tracking this system and will have the latest forecast details as they become available.