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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tropical Storm Ian became a hurricane on Monday morning, and additional rapid strengthening is expected.
As of the 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, the track of Ian has shifted slightly back west. The models still hint at Ian taking a similar track moving in on the Big Bend region along the Gulf. This continues to put distance between Jacksonville and the hurricane.
Here is what changed from the last NHC update:
The strength has increased to 75 mph winds.
Ian is expected to reach Category 4 strength in the Gulf.
Models have shifted west farther off the coast of Tampa Bay with more time over hot Gulf water.
Increasing landfall risk farther north of Tampa Bay as a weaker hurricane, with some potential to shift toward the Panhandle.
At 5 a.m. the center of Tropical Storm Ian was located about 315 miles south-southeast of Cuba with significant wind and storm surge impacts expected.
Ian is moving toward the northwest near 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph with higher gusts. A westward motion is expected with a turn toward the northwest and north-northwest forecast on Monday, followed by a northward motion on Tuesday.
On the forecast track, the center of Ian is forecast to pass near or west of the Cayman Islands.
Ian will then move near or over western Cuba late Monday and emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
Data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds remain near 75 mph with higher gusts. Significant strengthening is forecast during the next few days.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center.
The estimated minimum central pressure is 983 mb.
Jamaica and the Cayman Islands can expect 3 to 6 inches of rain with up to 8 inches. Western Cuba could get 6 to 10 inches, with local maxima up to 16 inches. The Florida Keys into southern and central Florida Peninsula might get 2 to 4 inches, with local amounts of 6 inches to 1 foot beginning Tuesday through Friday.
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Hurricane Warning in effect for:
Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa
Hurricane Warning issued for:
West coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay
Tropical Storm Warning issued for:
Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque and Matanzas
Lower Florida Keys from Seven Mile Bridge westward to Key West
Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
Little Cayman and Cayman Brac
Englewood southward to Chokoloskee
What we can expect
Regardless of the exact track, it is becoming likely rain chances will increase late Tuesday through the end of next week.
Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall.
While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these impacts, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and closely monitor forecast updates.
This is a system to keep a very close eye on, as the long-term track remains uncertain. The average margin of error in the track in five days is 230 miles.
Stay with The Weather Authority and news4jax.com for updates throughout the next several days.