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Hurricane Ian: Official U.S. Landfall

Ian’s officially made landfall on Wednesday afternoon in Florida as a Category 4 Hurricane, becoming the 4th CAT 4 to make landfall in the sunshine state. At the time, winds were sustained at 150 mph and now the storm will slowly start to weaken. A second landfall in Florida followed at 4:35 PM ET and this was on mainland Florida near Pirate Harbor, not the barrier island. Impacts will last for the next 24 hours and even though the storm has made landfall the entire back half of the system needs to now move onshore. Ian’s eye is falling apart as it moves ashore but we are still dealing with CAT 4 strength winds. Do not let your guard down.

A TORNADO WATCH is in effect for Florida’s east coast overnight as the outer rainbands of Hurricane Ian will produce waterspouts and tornadoes closer to the Atlantic shores.

Official Forecast & Alerts

Tropical Alerts cover nearly the entire state of Florida and up the east coast as Ian sets its sights on the Sunshine State. These could be expanded north as the storm develops. For information on evacuation orders for your county in Florida, click HERE.

Ian is moving across Florida, weaking slowly and will become a CAT 1 overnight then a tropical storm. It reenters the Atlantic and curves back inland, making a third landfall (second U.S. landfall) as a Tropical Storm along the SC/Georgia border on Friday. Heavy rain will stretch inland to the Appalachians as the storm weakens wind wise, but the rain and subsequent flooding is just as dangerous and deadly.

Storm surge warnings have been issued for the west coast of Florida with the highest surge now expected from Sarasota south through Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor, where a surge of 12-16 feet is possible! This is UNSURVIVABLE. Areas in the LEFT front quadrant may actually see water levels drop, as pressure pulls the water into the center of the storm. We also anticipate storm surge for NE Florida and up into Georgia and South Carolina as winds wrap around the storm, and push water onshore into Thursday and Friday.

Rainfall/Flood Threat

Water is the number one killer in tropical systems, from freshwater, as well as the storm surge. We anticipate EXTREME Freshwater flooding from rainfall in Florida, with some locations in the bands expecting well over 18″ of rainfall. The exact placement of these bands will shift, farther north if the storm trends even just a few miles west, farther south if the storm track is back to the east. That means it is essential for all of Florida to plan for heavy rain and flash flooding. The WPC has highlighted the risk of excessive rainfall in Florida with a HIGH RISK (the highest category) of flooding on Wednesday and Thursday. A FLOOD WATCH is in place. PLEASE seek higher ground AHEAD of the storm if you live in a flood-prone area.

Severe Concerns

As is typical in tropical systems we will have the potential of severe weather, especially in the FRONT RIGHT quadrant of the storm. This is where we see the most “shear” or spin in the atmosphere with height, with tornadic activity likely. There has been an upgrade to an Enhanced risk for severe over areas of Eastern Florida. Severe weather will be draped all across central Florida on Wednesday with once again the primary threat being tornadic activity along with strong winds.

Thursday brings the severe weather opportunity to the Space and First coasts of Florida with once again tornadoes being the primary concerns.

More updates are on the way on WeatherNation. If you have family or you live in this region, you will definitely want to watch our tropical coverage. You can do that for free on any of these platforms—-> How to Stream WeatherNation

About the author
Lucy is originally from the Boston area but has spent the last four years forecasting and living in Colorado! She stayed in the northeast for her education, graduating Summa Cum Laude from SUNY Oswego with a B.S. in Meteorology. Just a few days after graduation, she made the cross country move to Color... Load Moreado Springs, CO to begin her career at KKTV, the CBS affiliate. Lucy has covered historic blizzards, tornadoes, windstorms, the largest wildfires in Colorado state history and dust storms ... they truly "get it all" in Colorado! Lucy is excited to forecast on a national level and continue her passion of explaining the science behind the weather!