TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s southwest coast on Wednesday and continued to wreak havoc across the state on Thursday.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning but regained hurricane strength again hours later as it headed toward South Carolina, where it made another landfall on Friday.
As Hurricane Ian was closing in on Florida, the Max Defender 8 weather team developed a tool to assist with the real-time tracking phase called the real-time wobble tracker. The tracker allowed the team to see minute-by-minute if the eye of Hurricane Ian was deviating from the forecast track issued by the NHC. Any time they noticed a deviation, they were able to alert viewers.
“The real-time wobble tracker was a huge asset as Ian moved across Florida,” WFLA Chief Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli said. “It showed each wobble and, more importantly, when the storm was deviating away from the forecast. For example, Wednesday night, the wobble tracker allowed us to warn our audience in Polk County that the storm was moving further south, which meant hurricane force winds would miss northern cities, but the stronger gusts would make a direct hit on southern parts of the county.”
Due to the success of the wobble tracker as Hurricane Ian impacted Florida, Berardelli and the WFLA Max Defender 8 weather team kept the wobble tracker live and updated as the storm made its way toward South Carolina.
“As Floridians know all too well, storms can change direction at the last minute,” Berardelli said. “Mere miles of deviation can make the difference between 12 feet of storm surge in a given location, or no storm surge at all.”
WFLA made the wobble tracker available online so those interested could see it for themselves and track along with the Max Defender 8 weather team.