Hurricane Ian is rapidly intensifying as it barrels towards western Cuba, then later, Florida, just north of Tampa Bay. Cuba is expecting life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds Monday night.
The storm may slow slightly as it tracks through the Gulf of Mexico — however this is not necessarily good news — as a slower storm has the potential to make flooding worse on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Major hurricanes hitting the Tampa Bay region directly, are fairly rare. In fact, only five major hurricanes have tracked within 50 miles of the area since 1851.
The National Hurricane Center is predicting up to 10 feet of seawater above normally dry land in the Tampa Bay region. A mandatory evacuation order is in place for zone A in Hillsborough County.
As climate change warms oceans, rapid intensification of storms has become more common and made storms more difficult to predict. Rapid intensification raises the stakes for major storms by making the window to get prepared smaller.
There is, however, still time for those in Florida to get ready for Hurricane Ian’s landfall. Currently’s Hurricane explainer and Flash Flood explainer have tips for what to do before, during, and after hurricanes and flash flooding events.
For now, those in Florida should get familiar with their evacuation zone. You can follow Currently’s coverage on Twitter and by subscribing to Glenn Schwarts, Hurricane newsletter — Currently in the Atlantic.