Tropical Storm Ian projected to hit Florida as major hurricane

Atlantic storm season has been markedly quiet up to now.

Updated: September 24, 2022 - 4:22pm

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Florida is facing the possibility of a major hurricane next week, with a recently formed tropical storm showing potential to develop into a strong storm that could pummel the southern U.S. state.

Tropical Storm Ian, the ninth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, was reportedly seeing wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour on Saturday morning south of Jamaica. 

Forecasters were projecting it to enter the Gulf of Mexico early next week and swing eastward before potentially making landfall near Tampa, Fla. 

AccuWeather warned on Saturday that the storm could undergo "rapid intensification" while on its track through the gulf. 

"Because of very warm waters and a forecast minimal amount of disruptive winds, there is the potential for the system to undergo rapid strengthening anytime from this weekend to midweek," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said of the storm. 

One possible forecast has the storm achieving winds as high as 140 miles per hour as it nears the western Florida coast.