Reprint from the Weather Authority Newsletter: There is always a plot twist

Becomes bigger rain/floodmaker than producing damaging winds?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.🌀Hurricane Forecasting: There is always a plot twist

(8 a.m. Tuesday - There is a building consensus from the various forecast models that a slower and more easterly track may allow Ian to track very near, or just east of Jacksonville on Friday, is this the plot twist?)

Over the decades I have been tracking hurricanes, when it comes to hurricane forecasting, there is always some plotline twist, generally right near landfall. This tends to be even more true when it comes to major hurricanes.

Some examples:

  • Hurricane Irma (2017) tracks westward for an unexpected seven extra hours, pushing Irma into the north coast of Cuba. The devastation there was extreme and unexpected. Equally, the southeast coast (Miami area) was spared the direct impact, yet still recorded winds over 100 mph throughout many coastal communities.
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) tracks just east of New Orleans, slamming the forgotten coastal areas of Southern Mississippi. There, the storm surge was over 20 feet killing hundreds. In a frightening delay, back in New Orleans, the storm had passed by 8:30 a.m. and life was attempting to get back to normal in the French Quarter when the levees along Lake Pontchartrain began to fail. Within hours, the city that lies below sea level flooded, trapping tens of thousands.
  • Hurricane Michael (2018) appeared to be a relatively classic later-season hurricane. It was early October, and most hurricanes as they reach the northern Gulf of Mexico, begin to lose strength. This was somewhat expected. Instead, in the dark of night, Michael explodes from a Category 2 into a Category 5 monster, laying waste to Mexico Beach.
  • Hurricane Charley (2004) was another similar storm to Ian, tracking out of the Caribbean Sea and northward; Charley was predicted to come ashore as a category 2, maybe a 3 near Tampa Bay. Once crossing Cuba, Charley exploded and tracked slightly east of North, coming ashore near Naples, Florida. Now a Category 4 powerhouse, it never really unwound and left a swath of hurricane-force winds/damage across the entire state.

I could ramble on, but there is so much to do...

Prepare for a twist in Ian’s story

What kind of twist? My best guess is that the storm will slow down much more than is suggested by the models. This has various ramifications, from anywhere of a weaker impacting storm, to a massive rainmaking storm.

For Jacksonville, a slower storm may be better for us as the worst of Ian would be unleashed well south of us.

But, time will tell. For now, we wait for the plot twist.

LINKS: Tracking the Tropics: Interactive map | Know Your Zone: Your flood risk | Plan & Prepare: Resources to be ready

Please do the basics for your home and family 2022 Weather Authority Hurricane Guide.

I have done so, and Richard has his generator all ready to go!

* This was pushed out to News4jax Insiders Weather Newsletter readers Monday, September 26th, 2022.

About the Author:

Our chief meteorologist lives and breathes the weather on the First Coast.