Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to rapidly intensify today as it shifts course toward western Cuba, but the threat of a direct hit to South Florida has receded, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.
The National Hurricane Center said Ian’s predicted track shifted west into the Gulf of Mexico, with landfall now expected in the Big Bend area of Florida. But it still could be a significant rainmaker as it passes by, dumping two to four inches of rain in Miami, with the addition of some gusty winds. Also a factor — the annual “King Tide” forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday
At 5 a.m., Ian had 50 mile-per-hour winds and was 625 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, moving west-northwest at 12 miles-per-hour.
While adjusting the track away from South Florida, forecasters said computer models were not in full agreement about Ian’s ultimate destination with forecast paths 220 miles apart from each other.
“While the models agree on the overall scenario, there are still significant differences regarding the exact track of the storm, especially after 72 hours,” said Senior Hurricane Specialist Dan Brown, noting that NOAA has sent another aircraft to collect data around the storm’s periphery to improve the computer predictions. “It cannot be overstated that significant uncertainty remains in Ian’s long-rage prediction,” Brown said.
Forecasters say Ian is now entering a region of very favorable conditions for speedy intensification, and are calling for it to become a hurricane by Monday and category four storm storm by Wednesday with 140 mph winds, but weakening before it makes landfall.
As for local impacts, forecasters said Ian’s rains are expected midweek bringing the threat of spot flooding, but it was too early to know precise amounts.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.