Tropical Storm Ian Forms, and Florida Prepares for Its Effects

Tropical Storm Ian, which formed late Friday over the Central Caribbean Sea, could threaten Florida as a major hurricane early next week after cutting across western Cuba, forecasters said.

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

The storm, which was 385 miles southeast of Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, at 11 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, was headed west-northwest at 12 m.p.h. and carried maximum winds of 40 m.p.h., forecasters said.

Forecasters said Ian was expected to move across the central Caribbean Sea through Saturday, then pass southwest of Jamaica and near or over the Cayman Islands on Sunday before approaching western Cuba on Monday.

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

On Friday, Gov. 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 freed up for protective measures and the National Guard would be activated, Mr. DeSantis said.

“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” 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, forecasters said, adding that heavy rain is expected to begin hitting South Florida on Monday.

Ian is the ninth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. A storm is given a name after it reaches wind speeds of at least 39 miles per hour.

Fiona, which formed on Sept. 15, strengthened into a major hurricane before being downgraded late Friday to a post-tropical cyclone. It was bearing down on Canada’s Atlantic provinces on Friday after lashing Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic.

Tropical Storm Gaston, which formed on Tuesday, was bringing strong gales to the Azores in the North Atlantic on Friday as it approached from the west.

And Tropical Storm Hermine formed in the Eastern Atlantic on Friday and was expected to bring two to four inches of rain to the Canary Islands, causing flash flooding in some high-terrain areas, forecasters said.

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, had a relatively quiet start, with only three named storms before Sept. 1 and none during August, the first time that had happened since 1997. Storm activity picked up in early September with Danielle and Earl, which formed within a day of each other.

In early August, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an updated forecast for the rest of the season, which still called for an above-normal level of activity. In it, they predicted that the season — which runs through Nov. 30 — could see 14 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 turning into hurricanes with sustained winds of at least 74 m.p.h.

Three to five of those could strengthen into what NOAA calls major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger — with winds of at least 111 m.p.h.

Last year, there were 21 named storms, after a record-breaking 30 in 2020. For the past two years, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, an occurrence that has happened only one other time, in 2005.

The links between hurricanes and climate change have become clearer with each passing year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms, though the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of increased water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on climate. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

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