Hurricane Ian will bring dangerous, days-long flooding to Florida

Downed palm fronds collect on an empty downtown intersection as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida’s Gulf Coast in Sarasota, Florida, U.S. September 28, 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Steve Nesius/File Photo.

Hurricane Ian is pummeling Floriday’s western coast, forcing more than 2 million people to evacuate. It’s the first major storm to hit the Tampa Bay area in about a century. Like many coastal regions, its population has rapidly grown in recent years, making the hurricane more dangerous and costly once it’s over.

There’s been an unusually low level of hurricane activity this season, which means the waters have accumulated more heat energy that helps fuel hurricanes, says Umair Irfan, Vox reporter covering climate change, energy, and the environment.

Ian has gone through “rapid intensification” multiple times. That’s when a storm exceeds 35 miles per hour in wind speeds over a 24-hour period. Its winds are currently gusting up to 155 miles per hour.

“Hurricane Ian is projected to cause upwards of 12 feet or more of storm surge on Florida's West Coast, and may also cause up to 20-30 inches of rainfall. So those two factors compounded together mean that there's going to be a lot of flooding along the coast and that can linger for days. And that can prove to be very dangerous in the aftermath,” Irfan says.