December 5, 2023

Hurricane Ian Enters the Gulf of Mexico – Headed Toward the West Coast of Florida

By Kathryn Hansen, NASA Earth Observatory
September 28, 2022

Typhoon Ian Enters the Gulf of Mexico, September 27, 2022.
After making landfall in Cuba, the category 3 storm entered the Gulf of Mexico and appeared headed towards the west coast of Florida.
On September 27, 2022, after making landfall in western Cuba, Hurricane Ian entered the Gulf of Mexico as a category-3 storm with a trajectory aimed at Florida.
NASAs Terra satellite got this natural-color image (above) of Hurricane Ian at about twelve noon regional time (16:00 Universal Time) on September 27, 2022, utilizing its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). This was just hours after it moved off the northwest coast of Cuba. Winds around this time determined around 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour– somewhat compromised after passing over the island, but staying a powerful category-3 typhoon.

Though tropical cyclones are atmospheric phenomena, much of their fearsome power comes from the ocean. The seas are abundant sources of moisture to feed growing storm clouds. Just as critically, they are large repositories of thermal energy that can move from the sea to the sky. As Hurricane Ian lashed western Cuba and headed for the west coast of Florida on September 27, 2022, it moved over a plentiful fuel source in the Gulf of Mexico. While sea surface temperature levels are just among the aspects influencing typhoons, they are a reasonable predictor of the preparedness of the ocean to sustain them.
Weather forecasters noted that warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico and low wind shear could help the hurricane regain strength over the next day prior to making landfall along the west coast of Florida.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, utilizing MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.