Three Causes Hurricane Ian Poses a Main Flooding Hazard for Florida

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The next essay is reprinted with permission from The ConversationThe Conversation, a web-based publication overlaying the most recent analysis.

Hurricane Ian strengthened into a serious hurricane on Tuesday because it headed for Florida and was on track to bring harmful storm surge to the coast and flooding rainfall to large parts of the state. A number of areas, together with round Tampa Bay, have been beneath evacuation orders.

After a slow start to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, Ian shaped in ultimate circumstances, with minimal vertical wind shear, which may tear aside a storm, and warm ocean surface waters offering gas.

Forecasters anticipate Ian to stay a serious hurricane—which means Class 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with winds over 110 mph—because it leaves western Cuba and strikes by means of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and Wednesday. However the scale doesn’t take water threat into consideration, and flooding and storm surge are each main dangers from Ian.

As a meteorologist living in Florida, I examine tropical storms and hurricanes. Listed below are three causes Florida is going through a excessive threat of water hazards this week.

The wet facet of the storm

Tropical methods aren’t completely symmetrical methods—one facet is usually bigger. With Ian monitoring up the west coast of Florida, the peninsula is anticipated to be on the “wet” side of the storm. The a part of the storm east of the middle of circulation usually has extra cloud cowl and extra rain.

Whereas Ian travels up the Florida coast, these outer bands will stretch over a lot of the peninsula and produce heavy rain for a lot of areas, starting as early as Monday night for South Florida and late Wednesday for northern elements of the state.

Some weather models are forecasting 10 inches or extra of rain within the area the place the storm makes landfall and travels throughout the state, probably as excessive as 15 inches.

Whatever the landfall location, many of the Florida Peninsula will see results from Hurricane Ian.

Storm surge threat

As Hurricane Ian continues to trace north, it will likely be pushing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico northward with it. That is storm surge, and it raises the water degree, with waves on prime including to its damaging energy.

The Gulf acts like an enormous bathtub, and when robust storms enter into this area, they assist raise up the water resulting from low barometric pressure. Barometric strain has a direct affect on sea ranges. When air strain rises, sea ranges decrease. Nevertheless, decrease barometric strain lifts the ocean.

Moreover, the storm’s robust winds will push the water in the identical route the storm is heading. Since land surrounds the Gulf of Mexico, there’s nowhere for this water to go however inland.

Places alongside a big a part of the western Gulf Coast might see storm surge heights between 4 and 10 feet, relying on simply how shut Ian tracks to the shoreline. The Tampa space forecast as of Tuesday, was for as much as 10 ft of storm surge that might be pushed into Tampa Bay. As much as 3 ft of storm surge was anticipated for the Florida Keys and South Florida, however these quantities may be greater, particularly as Ian strengthens.

On account of Ian’s northward monitor, parts of the Large Bend and the Panhandle can anticipate to see some storm surge and coastal flooding, particularly because the storm nears land. The Tampa Bay space specifically needs to be monitoring Ian intently, particularly if the middle of circulation makes a direct affect or stays simply offshore.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been already in impact Monday for elements of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, and Hernando County had a voluntary evacuation order. Residents have been inspired to check their evacuation zones and identify the closest shelters earlier than the storm arrives.

Measurement issues

One other issue to look at is Ian’s dimension. Measurement performs a key position in a hurricane’s affect.

A big hurricane, like Irma in 2017, may have extra cloud cowl and subsequently extra rain. Storm surge will attain a bigger space with bigger storms. If the storm is massive sufficient, it might even generate storm surge on the jap facet of the Florida Peninsula, like Irma did alongside parts of northeast Florida.

A smaller storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is extra of a wind storm and the impacts are in a smaller space. However as Florida noticed with Andrew, wind injury could be catastrophic in these smaller methods.

It’s too early to inform how massive Ian will get, however the storm is expected to intensify over the Gulf of Mexico. Residents throughout Florida want to organize for the chance of heavy rain, flash flooding, storm surge, remoted tornadoes and powerful winds.

This text was initially printed on The Conversation. Learn the original article.

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