ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — What once was major Hurricane Ian may be thousands of miles away from us here in Western New York, but the eyes of the entire nation continue to follow the storm with impacts being felt from both near and far. It’s difficult to put a storm like this in perspective especially if you’ve never experienced one, but the effects of this storm are likely to make history, and not in a good way. 

What’s the latest?

As of Thursday morning, Ian weakened to a tropical storm after making a catastrophic landfall as a major hurricane Wednesday afternoon at approximately 3:05 PM on the southwest coast of Florida near Cayo Costa. Based on data from the Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft, Ian’s maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were about 150 mph with a central pressure of 940 millibars. The difference between the storm being a category 4 and a category 5 at this time was only separated by 7 mph on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The strongest sustained winds from Ian at one point reached 155 mph, which is only 2 mph away from being a category 5 hurricane; the strongest on the scale.

Image: star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/floater

For perspective, there’s hardly a difference in terms of impact when comparing a strong category 4 hurricane to a weak category 5 hurricane. Remember that a tropical storm or hurricane of any category can be just as devastating as the next depending on other factors including the point of impact, the orientation of the storm to the region/coastline, and the vulnerability of the land. All these things can affect how devastating in terms of cost and loss of life a storm ends up being outside of measuring storms by the wind speeds alone.

How strong was Ian?

With all that in mind, Ian stands as the strongest landfalling hurricane for the U.S. since Hurricane Michael; the most recent hurricane to hit Florida. The storm looks to tie for 4th strongest storm to make landfall in Florida, and likely will make the list of one of the top 5 strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in history. Some of the strongest storms to make landfall in Florida include: 

The Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, 185 mph winds and a central pressure of 892 mb

Andrew in 1992, 165 mph winds and a central pressure of 922 mb

Michael in 2018, 160 mph winds and a central pressure of 919 mb 

Charley in 2004, 150 mph winds and a central pressure of 941 mb 

Ian in 2022, 150 mph winds and a central pressure of 940 mb

How can tropical systems affect western New York?

Ian may not end up making much of an impact on western New York, but there are hurricanes in the past that have:

Hurricane Agnes in 1972 

Hurricane Hazel in 1954 

Both of these hurricanes maintained their hurricane status by the time they reached New York State. Click the links above to get the full story!

We may not get flooding and storm surges to the extent that certain coastal areas do, but we can still see some extreme rainfall, up to 6″+, from these systems that can cause flash flooding and property damage.

What’s next for Ian?

Ian is expected to make another landfall as a category 1 hurricane somewhere along the Georgia and South Carolina coast bringing more heavy rain and flooding concerns to additional areas. The damage and impacts from this storm will likely last for several months, and for many a lifetime.