(WKBN) – Overnight, Hurricane Ian strengthened into a major hurricane and now has maximum sustained winds of 110 knots (over 125 miles per hour). Additionally, a well-defined eye has developed in the storm as it has just exited the western Cuba coastline.

Below is a six-hour infrared satellite loop of Hurricane Ian. The darker red colors are indicative of higher thunderstorm cloud tops where intense vertical updrafts are located.

Infrared satellite loop of Hurricane Ian.

Where is Ian tracking?

Currently, Hurricane Ian is forecasted to strengthen into a category 4 hurricane by Wednesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 130 MPH. Then, the storm will slow down and begin to make major impacts on the western Florida coast and more than likely make landfall just south of Tampa, Florida as a category 3 storm with 125 MPH sustained winds.

Track of Hurricane Ian from the National Hurricane Center.

Ian will bring a substantial wind, storm surge and flooding threat. Additionally, there will be a significant tornado threat on the northwestern side of the storm in parts of central and southern Florida.

How high will the storm surge be?

Below is the peak storm surge forecast from the National Hurricane Center. The highest areas of surge will be from Tampa Bay further south to Bonita Beach, where 8-12 feet of storm surge can be expected at the peak. Elsewhere, a storm surge of anywhere between 2-6 feet will be common along the western Florida coast.

Storm surge occurs when a large tropical cyclone, such as Ian, pushes water inland with strong wind gusts. It is often the most dangerous risk that hurricanes pose and leads to much destruction and flooding.

[Image of cumulative wind history]
The experimental peak storm surge forecast from the National Hurricane Center was issued at 11 a.m. September 27, 2022.

How many areas will experience hurricane wind gusts?

The map below shows the probability of experiencing hurricane-force winds (greater than 75 MPH) across the western coast of Florida. The map shows that hurricane-force winds have a greater than 50% probability between the areas of Tampa and Cape Coral, Florida. Currently, the best chance of experiencing hurricane-force winds is near Venice, Florida.

Hurricane wind speed probabilities (winds over 75 miles per hour).

Hurricane Ian will also produce very heavy rainfall over 2+ feet in some locations, which could lead to additional flooding. Ian will finally start to weaken over Florida by Friday and push out of the state by the weekend.