Confidence is growing that Tropical Storm Ian will eventually become Major Hurricane Ian and impact some part of the state of Florida — but the outlook for the attractions is currently a little better than it was before.
Let’s get to the bottom line up front:
- Ian is currently still “just” a tropical storm but is forecast to rapidly intensify to a major hurricane.
- While the exact track is still somewhat iffy, the expected size and strength of the storm could allow for enhanced impacts for Central Florida regardless of its exact path.
- That said, the track has been nudging west; This is somewhat better for Central Florida, but is not yet “total salvation.”
- The current National Weather Service forecast for Walt Disney World calls for possible Tropical Storm conditions Tuesday night through Wednesday Night. This is a better forecast than before, which had originally mentioned possible Hurricane conditions on Wednesday.
- Early hurricane preparations should be underway (such as stocking up on hurricane supplies and perhaps trimming loose branches); major preparations are probably a bit premature at this point (such as boarding up windows or leaving town). Note: You know your situation better than we do — if you need to adjust your plans upward for some reason and are comfortable with it possibly being a “waste of time,” then by all means do so.
- The forecast may still change, for the better or for the worse. You’ll need to stay updated throughout the weekend and upcoming week.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm approaching the state as a Category 3 Hurricane (111+ MPH winds) Wednesday, then nearing landfall Wednesday as possibly a Category 2 hurricane (96+ MPH winds) somewhere generally around the Homosassa / Crystal Springs area. While the current best estimate keeps the center of the storm a fair distance from the Attractions Area, the entire Attractions Area DOES remain well within the forecast margin of error; and, as mentioned before, the system will likely be large enough to deliver impacts far away from the center of the storm.
It can be risky to make storm-to-storm comparisons because there are SO MANY different factors to consider, but it’s likely not far from anyone’s mind that Irma remained a Category 2 hurricane as its center traveled about one county west of Walt Disney World a few years back. That storm caused a lot of damage an long-term power outages. Add in the fact that the latest few path projections have been uncomfortably similar to 2004’s Charley, and everyone’s eyebrows are understandably a bit raised about this one. Again, WE ARE NOT SAYING Ian will be an Irma or a Charley — but it has many Floridians’ attention because there are enough similarities to bring back some bad memories.
Based on the current forecast, here’s the thinking for the Orlando area as prepared by the National Weather Service office in Melbourne, FL:
Tuesday: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Tuesday Night: Tropical storm conditions possible. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday: Tropical storm conditions possible. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 82. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Wednesday Night: Tropical storm conditions possible. A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72.
Thursday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 83. Windy, with a south southeast wind around 30 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph.
Thursday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. Windy, with a south southwest wind 20 to 25 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.
Friday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph.Source: NWS Melbourne, 11:15 AM Sept 24, 2022
We’ll also add in this key message from the NHC:
Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba and approach the west coast of the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength early next week, where there is increasing confidence in multiple life-threatening hazards: storm surge, hurricane-force winds and rainfall flooding. While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these hazards, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys, and the Florida peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, follow any advice given by local officials, and closely monitor updates to the forecast.
So far there have been no announced impacts theme park operations. We’ll keep an eye out for those. NASA, however, has decided not to even try to launch the delay-beleaguered Artemis mission on September 27, just in case.
Forecasts will continue to change, so you’ll need to keep an eye on this system until we have a better idea of what’s going to happen with it. The next day or do should bring more clarity.
Keep calm and carry on!