The reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Ian can be found here.
News as of 5:40 p.m.:
Hurricane Ian, which currently stands as a Category 4 storm, has made landfall south of Fort Myers.
“Florida is ready to respond. We have fleets of highwater vehicles, 42,000 linemen, 7,000 National Guardsmen and 179 aircraft prepared to help,” Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
The storm is expected to move across Central Florida and exit Daytona Beach sometime Thursday, DeSantis said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
305 PM EDT 28 Sep — Hurricane #Ian has made landfall as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane near Cayo Costa, Florida with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph. The minimum pressure from Air Force Reconnaissance Hurricane Hunters was 940 mb.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 28, 2022
Tornado warnings are still in places regardless of if the area is in the direct path of the hurricane.
Hurricane and storm surge warnings are issued throughout parts of the state. A flood watch is in effect for Pinellas County through Friday.
Pinellas County sent an alert to residents, urging them to continue to shelter in place.
“Breaks in the weather do not mean the storm has passed. The county will announce when shelter in place and evacuation orders are lifted,” the alert read.
There are roughly 4,500 residents in Pinellas County public shelters.
“Our area could experience wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour, storm surge and heavy rain through Thursday morning. The risk of flash flooding in Pinellas County remains high. Prolonged bad weather conditions could weaken trees, carports, fences, and above-ground pools. As the storm moves slowly across Florida, conditions in Pinellas County are expected to worsen throughout the day, even if the storm remains to the south,” the county’s office wrote.
At least 143,000 in Pinellas County and the surrounding area are without power, according to reports.
There are 200,000 power outages reported throughout the state, DeSantis said. Over 100 portable cell towers ready to be deployed once conditions are deemed safe.
DeSantis urged the public to avoid standing water, drowned power lines, and to not operate portable generators inside the home as it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
The storm is producing 150 mph winds, down from its 155 mph winds offshore, according to the National Hurricane Center. However, it is just shy of becoming a Category 5 storm.
Forecasters previously predicted the storm would make landfall at Sarasota Wednesday afternoon as a Category 3 hurricane.
“Ian expected to cause catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula starting later today,” NHC wrote on Twitter.
On Monday evening, all residents in evacuation zone A (including all mobile home residents) were ordered to evacuate. On Tuesday, the county issued an alert stating zones B and C will be under a mandatory evacuation order starting at 7 a.m.
“It will bring heavy rain, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surge along with isolated tornado activity along Florida’s Gulf Coast,” DeSantis warned during a Monday press conference, stating Floridians on the Gulf Coast will feel the impacts of this 36 hours before actual landfall.
The hurricane has a width of 500 miles.
As an effort to aid Floridians who are evacuating, the state is waiving tolls on many of its roads and bridges, including the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the Selmon Expressway and Interstate I-4 connector. However, the Sunshine Skyway closed Wednesday morning.
For those who want to track the storm throughout the day, please visit NHC’s website.
You can also see real-time satellite images from NOAA.
Pinellas County resources
- Residents can sign up to receive emergency notifications with Alert Pinellas (Alert St. Pete).
- The City of St. Petersburg will also provide storm-related information through its social media channels.
- Pinellas County opened special needs shelters and two general population shelters at Ross Norton Recreation Center and the Lealman Exchange.
- The County Information Center is open from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. for storm questions and can be reached at 727-464-4333.
Cancellations as a result
- All Pinellas County Schools closed Tuesday, Sept. 27 and will remain closed through Friday.
- The City of St. Petersburg will be closed for normal business operations Tuesday, Sept. 27 and Wednesday, Sept. 28.
- The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is planning to cancel all of its transit services on Wednesday, Sept. 28. On Friday, PSTA will be assisting the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) by providing evacuation services. In addition, PSTA Access Paratransit services will be providing essential medical transportation. PTSA plans to resume all fixed route service beginning on Saturday, Oct. 1.
- Tampa International Airport suspended all operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday, ahead of Hurricane Ian. According to a release, the closure will allow airport officials to prepare the airfield and terminals, and secure jet bridges, ground equipment and any remaining aircraft on site. The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed at t 1 p.m. Tuesday due to the evacuation mandate, and it will remain closed until the mandate for zone A is lifted.
- The St. Pete Marina and Albert Whitted Airport have closed Tuesday afternoon and will remain closed until further notice.