Hurricane Ian could disrupt weekend plans in Kentucky. What to know about the forecast

Major Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm as of Wednesday morning, is set to make landfall south of Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, and forecasters expect the storm will bring weekend rain to stretches of Kentucky.

As of the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. update, Ian was 45 miles west-northwest of Naples, Fla., with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. The storm was nearing a Category 5, the highest level on the Saffir -Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which accounts for wind speeds, but not other dangerous factors like storm surge, tornadoes, inland flooding and more.

In advance of the storm, authorities in Florida have asked millions of people along Florida’s Gulf Coast to evacuate. The storm has already brought severe flooding to some areas of the state, and left a total power outage in its wake in Cuba Tuesday.

Hurricane Ian and Kentucky

Brian Schoettmer, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Louisville, said Wednesday morning current tracks show the storm making landfall out of the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida before crossing back to the Atlantic Ocean and making landfall once more, potentially near the Georgia-South Carolina border.

It’s likely to then churn across land northwestward, he said, losing steam and “wobbling” around Kentucky this weekend. The eastern part of the state is likely to see the most rain and poor weather from Ian.

“Overall, I don’t think it’s going be that impactful for the area, but if East Kentucky starts to see some of those higher totals, they may have a few minor flood concerns to worry about,” Schoettmer said.

Eastern Kentuckians should expect bands of rain associated with Ian around Friday night, with rain continuing through the weekend, possibly into Monday.

“It’s going to kind of just hang around and wobble over kind of the central Appalachians really through…it could hang out through Monday.”

Eastern Kentucky could see 2 to 3 inches of rain over the period, the NWS predicts, with amounts lessening dramatically the farther west you get in the state. Lexington could see half an inch to an inch of rain, while Louisville may stay dry or see around a quarter of an inch.

While the rain may fall heavy for stretched periods of time, Schoettmer said those rainfall totals are expected to fall over a multi-day period.

Eastern Kentucky, which is expected to get the bulk of Ian’s rain in the state, is tracking nearly 9 inches above typical annual rainfall amounts in some areas. Much of the region was hit with devastating flooding that left 40 people dead at the end of July.

The NWS in Louisville isn’t anticipating unusual wind with the system, but gusts around 20 to 30 mph in the Lexington area are possible.

In an email Tuesday, WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey said he, too, expects Eastern and Central Kentucky to see rain from Ian.

“It’s still not set in stone as it depends on the exact inland track of the storm, but odds favor, at least, some clouds and rain,” he wrote. “If Ian comes far enough west, some heavy rains would be possible.”

In a tweet Wednesday morning, Bailey seemed to firm up that prediction and said Eastern Kentuckians should be “on guard” for heavy rain.

Do you have a question about weather in Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Know Your Kentucky form or email