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Ian's official track moves westward, but hurricane center notes high degree of uncertainty

Map by National Hurricane Center
Map by National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. forecast for Tropical Storm Ian shifts it a little to the west as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico next week as hurricane.

But the hurricane experts underscore the uncertainity of the track four or five days out. At day four, two of the most trusted models -- the American GFS and European ECMWF -- are two hundred miles apart.

The NHC's cone of uncertainty covers most of Florida's west coast and the entire Florida Panhandle.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Ian had sustained winds of 45 mph as it moved westward south Jamaica. It is forecast to become a major hurricane -- with winds above 110 mph -- Monday evening but could lose strength as it travels north.

"Regardless of Ian's exact track," the NHC advisory says, "there is a risk of dangrous storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall along the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle by the middle of next week."

The hurricane center says Floridians "should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, follow any advice given by local officials, and closely monitor updates to the forecast."

On the current track, Central Florida could see tropical storm force winds on Wednesday.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.