LATEST ON IAN & ITS TRACK THE NEXT TWO DAYS:
Hurricane Ian early Tuesday crossed Cuba as a very strong hurricane with near category 3 strength, and is expected to potentially become a category 4 storm by late today. The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center will make Ian the strongest storm in the Atlantic basin this season.
Ian will spend the day on Tuesday moving away from the western flank of Cuba and moving mainly in a northerly direction off to the east of the Florida Keys by early morning on Wednesday. Ian will move through the day on Tuesday through fairly ideal conditions for a hurricane to become stronger. It will be in an area with very warm waters (84°+) and with very little wind shear (winds cutting across the storm; hurricanes do not like shear).
During the day on Wednesday, Ian is forecast to remain over exceptionally warm waters over the eastern Gulf of Mexico near the Florida coast. But it will start to encounter increasingly less favorable conditions with more wind shear cutting across the storm, and drier air that will be driven into the storm.
The bulk of the hurricane forecast models show a peak of intensity in the next 24-30 hours or so, and then a lowering in intensity until landfall. The storm is also projected to slow down its forward speed a bit before making landfall. While the intensity going down is potentially good news, the slower forward speed until landfall is really bad news.
This would make a longer period of time along the central Florida Gulf coast dealing with the winds from the hurricane, but also increase the amount of rainfall that would occur on the east side of the storm, and significantly increase the storm surge risk potential.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE STORM MOVES INLAND:
While the model data is pretty good leading through the next two to three days, once the storm starts to move inland, the forward speed is going to play a big factor in how far north the storm makes it before getting pushed to the east and away from potential impact on Ohio.
It does appear that the storm will spend Friday and Saturday moving through the southeast U.S. and become weaker and weaker. In fact, the five-day forecast track has the storm near the Charlotte area with winds near 30 m.p.h. by Saturday night. However, it should be noted that the forecast cone at this point is nearly 500 miles wide. This puts the northern fringe of the cone near the Ohio River near the Kentucky/West Virginia/Ohio area (near Huntington).
If the storm moves at a quicker pace, expect that we will see more cloud cover, especially for the second half of the day on Saturday, which could bring light showers to the southeast part of Ohio by late Saturday, and extend into more of the state into Sunday. The best chances would be in the eastern half of the state.
It appears that, by Sunday, the upper-level winds out of the west-northwest would start to push the leftovers of this storm to the east, and introduce drier air, which would end rain chances and start to clear clouds for the start of next work week.
If the storm takes a slower pace, expect that this storm will start to make a turn prior to getting a chance to bring rain showers to Ohio, but still could potentially bring some increase of clouds by Sunday.
In any case, it does not appear that heavy rainfall will be coming to Central Ohio from this storm. But again, the center of the storm is roughly 1100 miles away from Central Ohio, and the storm’s cloud field is nearly 900 miles wide right now. Rain bands are extending 400 to 500 miles away from the center of the storm as well.
Storm Team 4 will continue to closely monitor the storm, and update this forecast.