NEW YORK (PIX11) — Despite crossing through Western Cuba on Tuesday, Hurricane Ian remained a monster storm.
The storm quickly intensified as it moved into the Eastern Gulf of Mexico into a major Category 3 storm with winds of 120 mph. Moving into the warm waters of the Gulf, it has room to strengthen further into a Category 4 hurricane with speeds of 130 mph before it makes landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
Tropical storm force winds extend some 140 mph, so many across southern Florida will feel the storm’s effects well before it makes landfall.
While winds are a huge concern, this hurricane is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge along parts of the Florida Gulf Coast and catastrophic flash flooding for many.
The worst storm surge will be along the Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, with a peak height of 8 to 12 feet. Earlier storm forecast tracks indicated the possibility of landfall near the Tampa Bay area, which could have brought in a storm surge that could have crippled the region. However, due to the slight shift to the south, that is not the case unless there is another change.
Regardless of the storm surge, a good portion of Florida will get inundated with rain. Central and Northern Florida may get as many as 12 to 18 inches of rain, with some spots getting nearly 2 feet. As a result, widespread, catastrophic flooding is expected, and the threat will track northward as Ian makes its way into Georgia and beyond.
Back in the tri-state area, expect pleasant weather to stick around for the rest of the week.
Skies will feature some clouds on Tuesday night as the remains of an upper-level low make its way into Eastern Canada. As a result, temperatures will drop into the mid-50s.
A cold front will bring a few more clouds around on Wednesday, but it will remain on the dry side. As a result, highs will once again top out at around 70.
Slightly cooler air filters in behind the front on Thursday. High pressure will move in and clear the skies for the rest of the week. Temperatures will dip down into the upper 60s for both Thursday and Friday.
Heading into the weekend, Saturday looks OK, with highs around 70.
The forecast becomes unclear as the remnants of Ian make their way into the Mid-Atlantic States. The good news is that high pressure to the north will suppress the storm from tracking up the East Coast, but the rain could still make its way toward the New York City starting on Sunday. The threat of showers will increase on Monday, and it may linger into Tuesday as well.