Additionally, the storm’s strong winds will push the water in the same direction the storm is heading. Since land surrounds the Gulf of Mexico, there is nowhere for this water to go but inland.
Up to 3 feet of storm surge is expected for the Florida Keys and South Florida, but these amounts could be higher, especially as Ian strengthens into a major hurricane. Locations along the western Gulf Coast could see storm surge heights between 4 and 10 feet, depending on just how close Ian tracks to the coastline.
Due to Ian’s northward track, portions of the Big Bend and the Panhandle can expect to see some storm surge and coastal flooding, especially as the storm nears land, as well as areas along the coast. The Tampa Bay area in particular should be monitoring Ian closely, especially if the center of circulation makes a direct impact or if it remains just offshore.
Another factor to watch is Ian’s size. Size plays a key role in a hurricane’s impact.
A large hurricane, like Irma in 2017, will have more cloud cover and therefore more rain. Storm surge will reach a larger area with larger storms. If the storm is large enough, it could even generate storm surge on the eastern side of the Florida Peninsula, like Irma did along portions of northeast Florida.
A smaller storm, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is more of a wind storm and the impacts are in a smaller area. But as Florida saw with Andrew, wind damage can be catastrophic in these smaller systems.
It’s too early to tell how large Ian will get, but the storm is expected to intensify over the Gulf of Mexico. Residents across Florida need to prepare for the risk of heavy rain, flash flooding, storm surge, isolated tornadoes and potentially strong winds.
This article is republished from The Conversation, an independent nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Athena Masson, Flagler College. The Conversation has a variety of fascinating free newsletters.
Athena Masson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.