Hurricane Ian expected to cause heavy damage in the Tampa Bay area
Hurricane Ian is expected to ravage Florida’s west coast as a Category 3 hurricane bringing heavy rainfall and winds of between 111 to 129 mph Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In-person and online classes at the University of Florida have been canceled Wednesday through Friday, according to a UF News update on Hurricane Ian released just after 8 p.m. Monday.
Ian is expected to emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday into Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
While the path of the hurricane can’t be exactly predicted, the areas of highest risk are from Fort Myers to Tampa Bay with potentially life-threatening storm surges, according to the National Hurricane Center. A storm surge warning is in effect for Tampa Bay, with surges potentially reaching as high as about 10 feet.
According to the Fort Myers News-Press, Tampa was last hit directly by a hurricane in 1921.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties Monday.
The storm surge will be well removed from the main path of the storm, according to the Director of the National Hurricane Center, Jamie Rhome.
These storm surges outside of the cone could potentially be life-threatening.
“Good chunks of Florida are going to experience the impact of it,” said Rhome.
Southwest Florida is expected to receive 3-4 feet of water from storm surges, according to Rhome.
Hurricane Ian may slow down or stall as it approaches the coastline, and if it does, the storm surge in several areas near the coast could rise.
People in evacuation zones should leave as soon as possible and should be past the preparation stage, according to Craig Fugate, former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If you are in an evacuation zone it is recommended to go to the nearest county not in an evacuation zone, according to Fugate.
Alachua County is currently not in an evacuation zone.
For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, go to University of Florida News.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.