Tropical Storm Ian is forming and Florida is bracing for its effects

Tropical Storm Ian, which formed Friday evening in the central Caribbean Sea, could threaten Florida as a major hurricane early next week after crossing western Cuba, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center said residents of South Florida and the Florida Keys should prepare hurricane supplies before sunset Monday. The storm could hit the peninsula as a Category 3 or higher hurricane, he said.

The storm was about 270 miles south-southeast of the Jamaican capital, Kingston, as of 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday. It was heading west at 15 miles per hour and carrying peak winds of 45 mph, the Hurricane Center said.

Ian was expected to cross the central Caribbean Sea on Saturday, then pass southwest of Jamaica and near or over the Cayman Islands on Sunday before approaching western Cuba on Monday. South Florida and the Florida Keys could experience heavy rain as early as Monday, the center said, and limited flooding was possible.

On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida declared a state of emergency for 24 counties ahead of the storm, including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. Under the order, money would be released for protective measures and the National Guard would be activated, DeSantis said.

“This storm has the potential to develop into a major hurricane, and we encourage all Floridians to be prepared,” he said in a statement.

Ian is expected to generate two to four inches of rain in parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, four to eight inches in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and six to 10 inches in western and central Cuba, the official said. center.

That rainfall could lead to flash flooding and landslides in areas of higher ground, especially in Jamaica and Cuba, forecasters said.

The Cayman Islands issued a hurricane watch on Friday and Jamaica issued a tropical storm watch.

Ian is the ninth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. A storm receives a name after reaching wind speeds of at least 39 mph

Fiona, which formed on September 15, developed into a major hurricane before downgrading Friday evening to a post-tropical cyclone. It made landfall in eastern Canada early Saturday, after days of whipping Bermuda, Puerto Rico and eastern Dominican Republic.

Tropical Storm Gaston, which formed on Tuesday, was expected to move near or over the Azores in the North Atlantic on Saturday morning.

And Tropical Storm Hermine formed in the eastern Atlantic on Friday and is expected to bring heavy rain to the Canary Islands, causing flash flooding in some high-altitude areas, forecasters said.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, got off to a relatively calm start, with just three named storms before September 1 and none in August, the first time since 1997. Storm activity resumed in early September with Danielle and Earl, who trained a day apart.

In early August, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released an updated forecast for the rest of the season, which still predicted an above-normal level of activity. In it, they predicted the season – which runs until November 30 – could see 14 to 20 named storms, with 6 to 10 developing into hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

Three to five of them could become what NOAA calls major hurricanes – Category 3 or higher – with winds of at least 111 mph

Last year there were 21 named storms, after a record 30 in 2020. Over the past two years, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season. , an event that only happened once. , in 2005.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming clearer every year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger around the world over the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms, although the total number of storms may drop as factors such as stronger wind shear strong could prevent the formation of weaker storms.

Hurricanes also become wetter due to increased water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without human effects on the climate. Also, sea level rise contributes to higher storm surge – the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

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