Tropical Storm Ian Forms in Caribbean, Expected to Hit Florida as Category 3 Hurricane

The projected path of Tropical Storm Ian, expected to become a major Category 3 hurricane with Florida landfall next week. (NOAA/National Hurricane Center)

Tropical Storm Ian formed in the Caribbean on Friday night, with a path that could bring it to Florida next week as a major Category 3 hurricane prompting Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency in 24 counties.

In its 11 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression 9 to Tropical Storm Ian. The storm, with maximum-sustained winds of 40 mph, was located about 385 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It was moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph.

“Early next week, Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall,” the NHC said in its discussion of the storm. “While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these impacts, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys, and the Florida peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and closely monitor forecast updates through the weekend.”

Though most of the state of Florida is within Tropical Storm Ian’s “cone of uncertainty,” the NHC cautioned that computer models are diverging on where the storm goes in the Gulf of Mexico after leaving Cuba.

Regardless of its exact path, Ian will start impacting Florida next week.

“Florida Keys and South Florida: Heavy rains begin as early as Monday,” the NHC said. “Limited flash and urban flooding is possible with this rainfall.”

The storm, forecast to grow its winds to 115 mph, prompted DeSantis’ emergency declaration.

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SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel, Garfield Hylton and Richard Tribou

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