The next essay is reprinted with permission from The Dialog, an internet publication masking the most recent analysis.
Hurricane Ian strengthened into a significant hurricane on Tuesday because it headed for Florida and was on monitor to deliver harmful storm surge to the coast and flooding rainfall to giant elements of the state. A number of areas, together with round Tampa Bay, have been below evacuation orders.
After a gradual begin to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, Ian fashioned in very best circumstances, with minimal vertical wind shear, which might tear aside a storm, and heat ocean floor waters offering gasoline.
Forecasters anticipate Ian to stay a significant hurricane—which means Class 3 or increased on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds over 110 mph—because it leaves western Cuba and strikes by way of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and Wednesday. However the scale doesn’t take water danger under consideration, and flooding and storm surge are each main dangers from Ian.
As a meteorologist dwelling in Florida, I research tropical storms and hurricanes. Listed below are three causes Florida is dealing with a excessive danger of water hazards this week.
The wet facet of the storm
Tropical techniques will not be completely symmetrical techniques—one facet is often bigger. With Ian monitoring up the west coast of Florida, the peninsula is predicted to be on the “moist” facet of the storm. The a part of the storm east of the middle of circulation usually has extra cloud cowl and extra rain.
Whereas Ian travels up the Florida coast, these outer bands will stretch over a lot of the peninsula and produce heavy rain for a lot of areas, starting as early as Monday evening for South Florida and late Wednesday for northern elements of the state.
Some climate fashions are forecasting 10 inches or extra of rain within the area the place the storm makes landfall and travels throughout the state, presumably as excessive as 15 inches.
Whatever the landfall location, many of the Florida Peninsula will see results from Hurricane Ian.
Storm surge danger
As Hurricane Ian continues to trace north, will probably be pushing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico northward with it. That is storm surge, and it raises the water stage, with waves on prime including to its harmful energy.
The Gulf acts like an enormous bathtub, and when sturdy storms enter into this area, they assist elevate up the water attributable to low barometric stress. Barometric stress has a direct affect on sea ranges. When air stress rises, sea ranges decrease. Nevertheless, decrease barometric stress lifts the ocean.
Moreover, the storm’s sturdy winds will push the water in the identical course the storm is heading. Since land surrounds the Gulf of Mexico, there’s nowhere for this water to go however inland.
Areas alongside a big a part of the western Gulf Coast may see storm surge heights between 4 and 10 toes, relying on simply how shut Ian tracks to the shoreline. The Tampa space forecast as of Tuesday, was for as much as 10 toes of storm surge that may very well be pushed into Tampa Bay. As much as 3 toes of storm surge was anticipated for the Florida Keys and South Florida, however these quantities may be increased, particularly as Ian strengthens.
Attributable to Ian’s northward monitor, parts of the Huge Bend and the Panhandle can anticipate to see some storm surge and coastal flooding, particularly because the storm nears land. The Tampa Bay space specifically needs to be monitoring Ian intently, particularly if the middle of circulation makes a direct influence or stays simply offshore.
Obligatory evacuation orders have been already in impact Monday for elements of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, and Hernando County had a voluntary evacuation order. Residents have been inspired to test their evacuation zones and determine the closest shelters earlier than the storm arrives.
One other issue to observe is Ian’s measurement. Dimension performs a key function in a hurricane’s influence.
A big hurricane, like Irma in 2017, may have extra cloud cowl and subsequently extra rain. Storm surge will attain a bigger space with bigger storms. If the storm is giant sufficient, it may even generate storm surge on the japanese facet of the Florida Peninsula, like Irma did alongside parts of northeast Florida.
A smaller storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is extra of a wind storm and the impacts are in a smaller space. However as Florida noticed with Andrew, wind injury will be catastrophic in these smaller techniques.
It’s too early to inform how giant Ian will get, however the storm is anticipated to accentuate over the Gulf of Mexico. Residents throughout Florida want to organize for the danger of heavy rain, flash flooding, storm surge, remoted tornadoes and powerful winds.