Hurricane Ian approaching Florida as powerful Category 3 storm, satellite images show

Hurricane Ian battered Cuba and turned toward the west coast of Florida on Tuesday (Sept. 27) as satellites track the harrowing storm from space. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ian was churning across the Gulf of Mexico as Category 3 hurricane and being tracked by the GOES-16/GOES-East weather satellite operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The satellite captured striking video and images of Hurricane Ian after it crossed western Cuba. 

"Re-strengthening is expected later today through Wednesday [Sept. 28]," NOAA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) officials wrote in an afternoon update (opens in new tab). "Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane."

Video: See Hurricane Ian churn from International Space Station

NOAA hurricane forecasters wrote that Hurricane Ian was expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and pass west of the Florida Keys Tuesday night. It should reach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday or Wednesday night, NHC officials said. The storm is forecast to make U.S. landfall just south of Sarasota, Florida, Wednesday night, according to the New York Times (opens in new tab)

Hurricane Ian is seen as a powerful Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 27, 2022 in this image from NOAA's GOES 16 satellite. (Image credit: NOAA)
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As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Ian was moving northward at about 10 mph (17 kph), with maximum sustained winds reaching speeds of nearly 120 mph (195 kph), NHC officials said. 

Heavy rainfall was already reported across parts of Florida, with state officials issuing evacuation orders for some coastal regions, according to the New York Times. 

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral along Florida's eastern coast, mission managers ordered the agency's Artemis 1 moon rocket rolled back into its Vehicle Assembly Building so that it could shelter from the approaching storm inside the cavernous 52-story hangar. 

The Artemis 1 moon rocket, NASA's first Space Launch System booster, stands 322 feet tall (98 meters) and was waiting its first uncrewed test flight after weeks of delays and two previous launch attempts.

Artemis 1 rolls back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Sept. 27, 2022 due to Hurricane Ian. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
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"At approximately 9:15 a.m. EDT, NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission were secured inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center after a four-mile journey from Launch Pad 39B that began at 11:21 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26 ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Ian," NASA wrote in an update (opens in new tab). "After the storm has passed, teams will conduct inspections to determine impacts at the center and establish a forward plan for the next launch attempt, including replacing the core stage flight termination system batteries and retesting the system to ensure it can terminate the flight if necessary for public safety in the event of an emergency during launch."

NASA is also tracking Hurricane Ian from the International Space Station. On Wednesday, the space agency will provide live views of the storm at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) as seen from the orbiting laboratory.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award (opens in new tab) for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast (opens in new tab) with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network (opens in new tab). To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab).