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Published: 2022-09-27 08:54 am
All along Florida's west coast, officials are urging residents to get out of harm's way instead of staying to protect their property

1 min ago

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Steve Newberne, left, and Richard Latronita board up Gigi's restaurant in preparation for Hurricane Ian on Monday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As Florida prepares for Hurricane Ian's menacing approach here is what you should know about the forecast and potential impact on the state.

On rainfall: Ian is expected to dump at least 2 to 3 months’ worth of rainfall by Friday. Totals are expected to be 12 to 16 inches with maximums up to 24” in Tampa and West Central Florida. The average month of September brings about 6 inches of rain.

On people: More than 8 million people reside in the Hurricane Warning zone in West and Central Florida, meaning they are subject to hurricane-force winds of 74 mph or greater

Nearly 7 million people reside along the coast between Fort Myers and Clearwater, including all of Tampa Bay area are also under a storm surge warning, indicating a life-threatening storm surge of 5 to 10 feet is possible

On storm surge: Even the low range of storm surge currently forecast for Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater would represent the highest water levels ever recorded. It could double their highest. 5 to 10 feet is the expected surge in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The highest sea levels ever recorded reached around 4 feet high in Hurricane Elena in 1985 and the March 1993 “Storm of the Century.” 

On rapid intensification: Hurricane Ian’s rapid intensification has continued on Tuesday. Ian was a 45 mph tropical storm on Sunday afternoon, but is currently a 125 mph Category 3 major hurricane. Rapid intensification is considered an increase of at least 35 mph in 24 hours, Ian has far exceeded that, increasing by at least 55 mph in a 24 hour period between Sunday afternoon and Monday afternoon.

Some history: The last major hurricane to make landfall in the US was Hurricane Ida (Category 4) in 2021 in Louisiana. The last major hurricane to make landfall in Florida was Hurricane Michael in 2018 (Category 5).

3 min ago

From CNN's Doug Criss and Christina Maxouris

If you are in the path of Hurricane Ian, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.

Here’s a checklist to help you get started, with tips from the American Red CrossFederal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Hurricane Center.

What to do as the storm approaches:

  • Stay inside
  • Protect windows and doors with permanent storm shutters or plywood
  • Keep local radio, NOAA radio or TV stations on for new information
  • Download the Red Cross emergency app (for iPhone, Android)
  • Keep a hurricane lamp Make sure all pets have identification tags
  • Store all lawn furniture, trash cans, toys and gardening tools inside to prevent them from getting blown away
  • Find local emergency shelters
  • Fill plastic bottles with drinking water
  • Fill bathtubs with water
  • Fill your car’s gas tank
  • Unplug all small devices and turn off propane tanks
  • Buy a fire extinguisher Have a to-go pack ready and learn evacuation routes in your area

What to have on hand as a storm approaches:

  • First aid kit and instructions
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Sleeping bags and blankets
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • Week-long supply of prescription medicines
  • Paper plates, cups, and towels
  • Non-perishable/canned foods
  • Jumper cables
  • Maps
  • Roadside emergency kit
  • GPS
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Cash
  • Toilet paper
  • Disinfectant
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Household bleach
  • Feminine supplies
  • Soap
  • Wet wipes
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy shoes

Read the checklist in full by downloading this PDF, which contains links with more details.

40 min ago

From CNN's Michelle Watson  

Lee County officials in southwest Florida are implementing a mandatory evacuation order for residents living in zone A and parts of zone B of the county, officials said Tuesday. 

The county is currently under a hurricane watch, tropical storm warning and a storm surge warning, according to a Facebook post from Monday night.  

"The evacuation this morning is a mandatory evacuation order, and that is as mandatory as can be," Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said in a news conference Tuesday. "We will not be going house to house enforcing people to leave, but we are stressing the importance of people getting out of harm's way." 

Zone A is generally surrounded by low-lying areas that tend to flood, Desjarlais said. Residents living in mobile and manufactured homes are also encouraged to leave, he added.  

Government offices are closed Tuesday and won't reopen until Thursday, according to the county's website. All toll sites on Lee County are suspended "until further notice," the county added.  

The county's school district and its offices, which serves nearly 100,000 students, are also closed Tuesday and Wednesday. School officials said they'd reevaluate when to reopen by 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. 

There are 10 pet-friendly emergency shelters opening throughout the county at 9 a.m. ET, Desjarlais said. Residents looking for shelter information, zone information, as well as Ian's whereabouts, can check the county's website and Facebook.  

County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, also present at the news conference, stressed the uncertainty of the storm at this time.  

"I just want to get a point across that we are going to feel this storm – how badly is still undetermined," Marceno said. "Understand and we stress the fact that once the winds hit a sustained 45 miles per hour, law enforcement, emergency personnel, are not going to respond. So, God forbid someone does need 911 and they dial, a law enforcement officer is not going to respond until it's safe to."

Lee County is roughly 132 miles west of West Palm Beach, Florida.   

1 hr 5 min ago

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann in Havana

About 38,000 people had been evacuated from homes in the Pinar del Rio province in Cuba as of Monday night, according to state news channel TelePinar.

Most people had gone to stay with friends and family, and 55 shelters have been set up in the province, it said.  

45 min ago

From CNN's George Ramsay

Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmets sit on the sidelines during a preseason game in August 27. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

In preparation for the potential impact of Hurricane Ian, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are relocating their football operations to Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Starting Wednesday, the Bucs are expected to practice at the Miami Dolphins’ Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens ahead of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

There have currently not been any changes to the game, which is scheduled to take place at 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The Dolphins have a game at Cincinnati on Thursday, meaning their training facilities are available to use from Wednesday.

Remember: Early Tuesday morning, Ian made landfall in western Cuba as a Category 3 storm. It quickly strengthened on Monday and will likely continue gaining in intensity as it moves over Cuba on Tuesday morning, forecasters say. While the hurricane's exact path remains uncertain, projections show that Florida's Tampa area could get its first direct hit from a hurricane since 1921.

1 hr ago

Hurricane Ian is slamming Cuba and is expected to strengthen and bring dangerous storm surge, heavy rain and high winds to much of western Florida. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast.

Watch here:

1 hr 16 min ago

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh

Hurricane Ian's menacing approach to Florida has triggered preparations across the state as officials announced school closures and flight cancellations, and the military began moving ships and aircraft. Here are some closures and changes in services that you should know about:

  • Tampa Electric said it may have to proactively shut down power in the southern tip of downtown early Wednesday in an effort to “avoid serious damage to the underground equipment from saltwater storm surge, which will significantly shorten restoration time after the storm.”
  • Tampa Bay International Airport will suspend operations at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, DeSantis said Monday. The Port of Tampa Bay is also planning to suspend operations at 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, the governor said.
  • The HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg announced it has suspended services and transferred patients.
  • Colleges and universities across the state – like Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and University of South Florida in Tampa – are taking steps to prepare, including campus evacuations or a shift to online classes.
  • On the K-12 level, Hillsborough County Schools canceled classes as campuses become storm shelters. And surrounding counties, including Citrus, Pasco, Manatee and Hernando, have also announced closures this week.
  • Disney World announced some temporary resort closures from Wednesday through Friday.
  • At least three cruise lines also began rerouting passengers due to the hurricane.
1 hr 22 min ago

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh

With tropical storm conditions possibly beginning Tuesday night, officials are concerned about Hurricane Ian’s storm surge – a rise in water level caused by a strong storm’s wind pushing water onshore.

A storm surge warning is effect for the Anclote River southward to Flamingo and Tampa Bay, where the inundation of water could reach 10 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Tampa Bay region is particularly vulnerable to storm surge and could see catastrophic damage from flooding – even if the area doesn’t get a direct hit from the hurricane.

53 min ago

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh

uricane Ian is expected to pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday and approach the west coast of Florida late Wednesday into Thursday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned of power outages as well as possible evacuations and fuel shortages, telling people to “make preparations now.”

Here's what you should know now:

A hurricane warning is in place from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center. This means that “hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case, within 24 to 36 hours,” the center said.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the Middle Florida Keys and portions of the state’s east and west coasts.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the southeast coast from Deerfield Beach north to Jupiter Inlet, the hurricane center said.

Mandatory evacuations orders have been issued for parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, and emergency shelters were opened.

“When we issued that mandatory evacuation, what that means is if you don’t and you call for help, we’re not coming because we’re not going to put our people in harm’s way and put them in peril because you didn’t listen to what we told you to do,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

All along Florida’s west coast, officials are urging residents to get out of harm’s way instead of staying to protect their property. Here are some other evacuation orders:

  • Evacuation orders also went into effect for low-lying areas of Charlotte County as well as the counties of Sarasota, Hernando and Manatee.
  • Floridians should expect more evacuations Tuesday for counties north of the bay, inland and some south of the bay, said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

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