TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane Ian is making its way through the Gulf of Mexico with its sight set on Florida, and people all along the coast are concerned about how it will impact them.
Forecast models and tracks have come into better agreement that we will feel impacts in the Tampa Bay area. What kind of impacts and how intense they will be depends on where you live and where exactly the storm makes landfall.
Conditions will deteriorate late Tuesday into Wednesday morning with outer rain bands moving through. The worst winds and surge will be Wednesday night and through Thursday midday with conditions only slowly improving Friday.
Keep in mind, areas around and to the south of landfall will have the strongest winds and highest surge.
Here’s a look at what each county could expect:
Winds could gust in excess of 110 mph during the worst of the storm if it makes landfall near Tampa Bay. Farther inland, closer to the Polk County line in interior portions of Hillsborough County, winds could gust up to 90 or 100 mph.
Along the coast, if the storm makes landfall in Tampa Bay or in northern Pinellas or Pasco County, the storm surge could be as high as five to 10 feet as the water is pushed onto land from the strong winds. If the storm makes landfall south of Tampa Bay, the storm surge would be much lower but there would still be higher-than-normal water levels with inundation possible on east-facing coastlines like Bayshore Boulevard.
Heavy rain will lead to extensive flooding, even in areas well away from the coast with 10 to 15 inches, and localized amounts of up to 20 inches. This will fall over the course of three days beginning late Tuesday and lasting through late Thursday into Friday.
There will also be a threat for isolated quick spin-up tornadoes but the threat is lower than if the storm came ashore to the north of Hillsborough.
Winds in Pinellas County will be sustained from 60 to 90 mph, with gusts up to 100 mph possible.
If the storm makes landfall in or north of Pinellas County (less likely), storm surge heights will be between five and 10 feet Wednesday night and Thursday morning. There could still be some water rise as the storm moves north of Pinellas County but it would be more like three to five feet.
Extensive flooding is likely in Pinellas County due to heavy rains. There is a possibility for 10 to 15 inches of rain and isolated amounts of 20+ inches.
Sustained winds at tropical storm-force are likely and hurricane-force are possible.
The biggest threat to Pasco County will be rainfall. Accumulations of up to 15 or 20 inches of rain through Friday are possible. Significant flooding from those heavy rains is likely.
There will be a low-end tornado threat in Pasco County as well.
Tropical storm-force winds are very likely. Hurricane-force sustained winds are very possible as well with the center of the storm expected to track through Polk County as a Category 1 hurricane. Plan for sustained winds of at least 60 to 70 mph through the storm.
Heavy rain will lead to localized flooding and rising rivers. Six to 12 inches of rain are possible with localized amounts of 15 or more inches.
There will be a threat for isolated tornadoes in those rain bands as they pass through.
Strong winds and storm surge will be the main concern for Sarasota County. Winds will be sustained well into hurricane-force starting Wednesday evening. Sustained winds of major hurricane strength (111+ mph) are possible.
Storm surge in Sarasota Bay could be anywhere from five to 10 feet Wednesday night and Thursday. Rainfall will accumulate to 10 to 15 inches inches along the coast and far inland.
Strong winds, storm surge and excessive amounts of rainfall will be the main concern for Manatee County. Winds will be sustained well into hurricane-force starting Wednesday evening. Sustained winds of major hurricane strength (111+ mph) are possible.
Storm surge in Sarasota Bay, possibly into the Manatee River, could be anywhere from five to 10 feet Wednesday night and Thursday. Rainfall will accumulate to 10 to 15 inches along the coast and far inland leading to significant flooding.
There will likely be tropical storm-force winds for a period of time in Citrus County, but the strongest winds from the storm will likely be to the south. There could still be some rise in water levels from storm surge Thursday into Friday as the storm pulls away but the water level rise would be much lower than if the storm made landfall closer to the area.
Heavy rain will be the biggest threat for Citrus County with eight to 12 inches of rain possible.
Tropical storm-force winds, possibly hurricane-force gusts, are possible in Hernando County. Heavy rain will lead to flooding with 10 to 15 inches of rain possible.
If the center of the storm is south of Hernando Co., storm surge would be minimal but as it passes north (even inland), there could be a little water rise later Thursday. There will also be a low threat for isolated tornadoes.
The threat for isolated tornadoes in Highlands County will be higher than most areas. Isolated tornadoes could quickly spin up in outer rain bands that spiral through.
Winds will likely be sustained in tropical storm-force for a period of time. They could gust into hurricane strength, especially if the storm makes landfall in Sarasota County.
Rainfall accumulations could be up to 6 inches.
Hardee County will experience sustained tropical storm-force winds and hurricane-force gusts. The rainfall won’t be as big of a concern as other areas but four to six inches of rain are possible over the course of three days.
There will be a greater tornado threat in Hardee County as rain bands spiral around the center of the storm.