Special Hurricane Ian Travel & RV Weather Forecast Monday evening 26 September


** Heads Up ** RVers in or traveling to the Florida Gulf Coast need to TAKE ACTION regarding Hurricane Ian, now in the Caribbean Sea and strengthening rapidly. There will be significant impacts to infrastructure on parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast from the Big Bend region to Tampa Bay and Ft Myers. Northeast Florida will also see wind and surge impacts from Ian — do not be caught unawares if you are on the First Coast or along the St. Johns River.


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Hurricane Ian:

Hurricane Ian is southeast of the western tip of Cuba this evening, moving to the north-northwest and strengthening quickly. Ian is currently a Category 2 hurricane and will likely became a Category 4 hurricane by Wednesday afternoon. Ian should enter the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and be to the north and west of Key West by late Tuesday night. It is likely the hurricane will slow down once it is west of the Florida Peninsula, making this a multi-day weather event.

The National Hurricane Center has issued numerous Warnings and Watches for Florida, associated with Ian.  Some of the notable Warnings include a Hurricane Warning from Ft Myers to the greater Tampa Bay area, a Storm Surge Warning from north of Tampa Bay, extending southward along the entire western Florida Coast, and Tropical Storm Watch on the east coast from West Palm Beach northward to Brunswick GA.  

	Expect significant storm surge of 4-8 feet from Ft Myers northward to Cedar Key.  The Tampa Bay area looks to be ‘ground zero’ for the greatest storm surge with up to 10 feet of surge expected.  There is also 2-4 feet of storm surge expected on the northeast FL coast, southeast GA, and along the St. Johns River.  Much of Florida may see 6-10 inches of rainfall which will compound the disaster.  Ensure you are out of locations that flood with heavy rain.
 
	It is important not to focus on the exact track of the storm or the latest prediction of a specific point of landfall.  Ian will be a major hurricane that parallels and moves slowly along the western coast of the Florida Peninsula from Tuesday evening through Thursday evening.  The impacts of storm surge and fresh water flooding will likely be more significant than destruction from the strong winds.

	While there are no mandatory evacuation orders in the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Emergency Management Office “strongly urges” RV’s to leave and move out of the Tropical Storm Warning area.  If you decide or are forced to stay, seek shelter in a sturdy building.  There are currently evacuations ongoing around the greater Tampa Bay area.  Please follow the advice, directions and guidance of your local emergency management officials.  

	Expect Tropical Storm force winds to impact the coast from south to north starting Tuesday afternoon and reaching the Panhandle by Wednesday night.  The greatest risk for sustained hurricane force winds is from Cedar Key southward to Tampa Bay.  Destructive winds, at a force you would not want to experience in your RV, may be experienced from the Big Bend region southward to Ft Myers.

	Expect infrastructure impacted by the hurricane, especially along the immediate coast, to be disrupted for days and weeks.  If you travel to the west coast of Florida this week, you will likely be required to evacuate on short notice.  If you are already RVing on the coast between Ft Myers and Cedar Key, have your rig and evacuation plan ready to go, and follow the directions of your local emergency management officials.

	Where to evacuate?  Most important, get away from the immediate coast or any estuaries that are impacted by storm surge.  Water kills in hurricanes.  Fresh water flooding will also be significant with Ian.  If you are in Tampa or south, think about evacuating to the Ft. Lauderdale / Miami area.  It’s counter-intuitive to go TO Miami to avoid a hurricane(!) … but the distance is shorter than driving up the Peninsula with a million of your new found friends.  Miami will also have several inches of rain falling, so make sure you are not in a low-lying area or location that floods easily.  Other options, if you choose to go north, would be almost anywhere in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana, ideally along or west of I-65.  Those states should see little, if any impact from Ian.

Severe Weather and Tropical Watches and Warnings

— See https://rvweather.com/warnings-watches-and-advisories/#NHC_Hurricane_Advisory for the latest WARNINGS and information on Tropical Storm Ian.

— See https://rvweather.com/warnings-watches-and-advisories/#SPC_Tornado_Watch for the latest Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm WATCHES

— See https://rvweather.com/warnings-watches-and-advisories/#NWS_Tornado_Warning for the latest Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, and Flash Flood WARNINGS.



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