Hurricane Ian is now a category 3 story and is heading toward Tampa Bay. Credit: National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Ian is now a Category 3 storm and “battering western Cuba” Tuesday morning with high winds and “life-threatening storm surge,” according to the National Hurricane Center, and Ian appears to be closing in on Florida’s west coast, in the Sarasota and Tampa Bay area.
The national Center tweeted Tuesday morning that “Today is your last day to prepare and follow evacuation orders from local officials.”
Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, said the Center forecasts that landfall would be at “Venice in 35 hours at 125 miles an hour — making that a major category 3 landfalling hurricane.” Venice is in Sarasota County, on the Gulf side of the peninsula.
Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that there would be “catastrophic” storm surges and wind.
“Mother Nature is a very fearsome adversary,” the governor said at a news conference Tuesday morning at Florida’s state emergency operations center in Tallahassee. DeSantis is scheduled to go to Sarasota County’s emergency operations center for a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The core of Hurricane Ian is bringing in hurricane-force winds, storm surge, possible mudslides, and “devastating” wind damage to Cuba.
According to an 8 a.m. public advisory from the hurricane Center: “The center of Ian is expected to emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico in a couple of hours, pass west of the Florida Keys later today, and approach the west coast of Florida within the hurricane warning area on Wednesday and Wednesday night.”
As of Tuesday morning, 37 of Florida’s 67 traditional K-12 school districts have decided to close in preparation for the storm. Days vary depending on the district, and exact dates can be found on the Department of Education’s website.
The current school district closures are for: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Volusia.
“You may very well have more as the track becomes more certain,” DeSantis said the press conference, referring to additional school district closures.
In addition, some of Florida’s colleges and universities have decided to cancel classes and shut down ahead of the storm.
College of Central Florida, College of the Florida Keys, Daytona State College, Hillsborough Community College, Eastern Florida State College, Florida Gateway College, Florida SouthWestern State College, Indian River State College, Lake-Sumter College, Seminole State College, St. Petersburg College, State College of Florida, Valencia Colleges.
As for universities:
Florida A&M University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Polytechnic University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida.
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