- Hillsborough County on Monday morning issued a mandatory evacuation order for portions of the county
- Zone A, which covers most coastal areas in the region, has been instructed to move at least 20 miles inland to avoid potential flash floods and infrastructure damage
- Tropical Storm Ian is expected to intensify to a hurricane on Monday and make landfall close to Tampa Bay later this week
A mandatory evacuation order has been issued Monday morning for individuals residing in Zone A of Hillsborough County. The order will take effect at 2 PM on Monday and last the duration of Tropical Storm Ian.
Evacuation Zone A includes most coastal areas of the Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg region, extending up through Temple Terrace and bordering portions of Brandon’s east border.
While no such declaration has been made for Evacuation Zone B, a voluntary evacuation order has been put in place.
Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise said during a Monday press conference that residents could be stuck in shelters for days, and recommends that those inside Zone A move at least 20 miles inland.
“We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” said Wise.
— City of Tampa (@CityofTampa) September 26, 2022
Moreover, leaders of Hillsborough, Manatee, and Pinellas counties have issued a local state of emergency, granting county administrations and sheriffs to act rapidly in the scenario of evacuation, shelter maintenance, or debris removal.
“Tropical Storm Ian’s forecast is uncertain but has a significant probability of making landfall along the west coast of Florida as a strong tropical storm or a hurricane, which tract poses a potentially serious and imminent threat to the Hillsborough County area,” the county said. “Such a potentially serious and imminent threat to the Hillsborough County area includes the capacity to create additional rainfall, road and river flooding, coastal flooding, gale force or greater winds, and isolated tornadic activity which may pose a serious threat to public health and safety, and cause serious property damage within Hillsborough County and the surrounding area.”
Monday morning, Tropical Storm Ian intensified into a hurricane. According to the National Hurricane Center, the system is heading northwest at 13 mph, roughly 90 miles southwest of Grand Cayman.
Hurricane Ian, the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season, is forecast to swiftly develop, potentially reaching Category 4 strength with sustained winds ranging from 130 to 156 miles per hour before making landfall in Florida.
Ian is currently forecast to impact the west coast of Florida or the Florida Panhandle by midday Thursday, though tracking models have presented conflicting information.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Florida on Saturday, urging Floridians to prepare for a storm that could hammer swaths of Florida.
“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm.”