Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Hurricane Ian Develops Into a Category 3 Hurricane as Florida Prepares for Landfall in the Coming Days


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian, a Category (Cat) 3 hurricane, is moving over Western Cuba toward the north at approximately 12 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, as of 5:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Ian is expected to strengthen throughout the day as it moves over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and is expected to approach the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane with Hurricane-force winds reaching outward up to 35 miles and tropical storm force winds reaching 115 miles from the center of the storm.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

The NHC has reported significant wind and storm surge impacts occurring in Western Cuba. If peak storm surge occurs at the same time as high tide, normally dry areas near the Florida coast may be flooded by rising waters. Multiple hurricane, tropical storm, and Storm Surge Warnings and Watches are in effect for many parts of Florida.

Twitter: NHC Storm Surge

On Monday, September 26, Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference from the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), announcing that 7,000 National Guardsmen and five urban search and rescue teams have been activated in preparation for the storm’s impact. In his statement, DeSantis announced that mandatory evacuations have been ordered in Hillsborough County for all residents in Zone A, the coastal regions along Tampa and Hillsborough bays. The order, effective as of Monday afternoon, calls for the evacuation of as many as 300,000 people living in Hillsborough County alone. As of Tuesday, September 27, mandatory evacuation orders have also been issued for Zone A residents in Charlotte, Levy, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Further inland in central Florida, Counties are planning to call for evacuation orders for people living near flood-prone areas. Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie called for residents to “know their zones” and check with the FDEM evacuation zone map as directed to stay up-to-date. 

As preparations intensify, the Tampa International and St. Pete-Clearwater International (PIE) airports plan to suspend operations Tuesday afternoon, September 27, in compliance with mandatory evacuation orders. Airlines will be waiving change fees and fare differences for those flying to or out of several Florida destinations within projected impact zones. 

In preparation for Hurricane Ian’s arrival, FDEM has also readied more than 27,000 power restoration personnel and prepared 360 trailers with over two million meals and one million gallons of water to distribute to storm-impacted areas. The Division has also coordinated with utility providers to stage 25,000 linemen in anticipation of power outages across the state.

FEMA Flood Safety: Source

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Ian brings potential for life-threatening storm surge to many coastal and urban communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and prepare for hurricane and severe weather conditions. FEMA also encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. Flash floods can develop with little to no warning, quickly changing the surrounding area. FEMA suggests individuals seek higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and heed the warnings of local authorities. Additionally, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for tornadoes. Tornadoes can appear suddenly, destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. FEMA suggests individuals under Tornado Warnings seek shelter right away. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.