September 27, 2022 Florida braces for Hurricane Ian

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 10:01 PM ET, Tue September 27, 2022
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11:37 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Ian's forecast track shifts south, but exact landfall remains uncertain

From CNN's Brandon Miller

This satellite image taken at 9:56 a.m. ET on Tuesday shows Hurricane Ian passing over western Cuba.
This satellite image taken at 9:56 a.m. ET on Tuesday shows Hurricane Ian passing over western Cuba. (NOAA via AP)

Hurricane Ian’s center has emerged into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday morning, according to the 11 a.m. ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Ian’s winds have decreased only slightly, down to 115 mph, as a result of the trip across western Cuba, which keeps the storm as a Category 3. Ian is expected to strengthen again later today and become a Category 4 before the end of the day. 

The expected track for Ian has shifted around 25 miles south in the newest advisory, with landfall expected to occur north of Venice, Florida, around 6 to 12 hours earlier than previously anticipated. Ian is still expected to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall on Wednesday evening around 8 p.m. local time. 

“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move 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,” the center said.

This also shifts the expected highest surge, with the highest surge expected to be 8 to 12 feet, occurring south of Tampa Bay and north of Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor and the cities of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. Storm surge in and around Tampa Bay, including St. Petersburg and Clearwater, is still expected to be 5 to 8 feet.

"Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane," the center said.

Ian is moving north at 10 mph, and "a turn toward the north-northeast with a reduction in forward speed is forecast tonight and Wednesday," it said.

"This is a life-threatening situation," it emphasized.

"Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials," according to the advisory.

11:00 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Check if you're in a Florida evacuation zone with this tool

Florida's Division of Emergency Management, floridadisaster.org, has a tracking tool to inform residents if they are in an evacuation zone.

You can use this tool to find your zone and better understand orders from local officials.

10:57 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

How the climate crisis is fueling rapid intensification of hurricanes

From CNN's Angela Fritz and Rachel Ramirez

Hurricane Ian is strengthening rapidly as it passes over the ultra-warm waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center had predicted the system would rapidly intensify from a tropical storm to at least a Category 4 hurricane in less than 72 hours.

It is an unprecedented forecast, experts told CNN, but one scientist says it is becoming more likely as the climate crisis advances, pushing ocean temperatures higher and laying the groundwork for tropical storms to explode at breakneck pace into deadly major hurricanes. 

Rapid intensification is precisely what it sounds like — a hurricane's winds strengthening rapidly over a short amount of time. Scientists have defined it as a wind speed increase of at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less. 

The phenomenon played out with breathtaking speed in the Philippines this weekend. Super Typhoon Noru exploded in strength on its final approach toward the Pacific island nation, going from the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane to a Category 5 overnight as residents around Manila slept.

Noru's rapid intensification right before landfall — which was not predicted — likely meant locals had no time prepare for the much stronger storm. 

Hurricane Ian's intensification has been in the forecast for days, giving Cuba and Florida the benefit of time. Winds in the storm increased from 45 mph Sunday evening to 80 mph late Monday morning, and more strengthening is in the forecast. Ian could intensify into at least a Category 4 before it makes landfall in Florida midweek.

Rapid intensification has historically been a rare phenomenon, according to Allison Wing, an assistant professor of atmospheric science at Florida State University.

It "is really sort of at the extreme end of how quickly storms can intensify," Wing told CNN. "Only something like 6% or so of all forecast time periods have those types of rapid intensification rates observed associated with them. And so it's something that's by definition, a rare event. Sometimes it only happens a few times per season."

Read more about this here.

10:52 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Manatee County expands mandatory evacuation: "This is worst-case scenario"

From CNN’s Devon Sayers and Rebekah Riess

Manatee County Emergency Management officials have expanded a mandatory evacuation order for the county to include both level A and level B evacuation zones. Additionally, residents living in evacuation level C are being encouraged to find shelter further inland, according to a news statement from the county.

“Those along the coast and prone to flooding need to take this seriously and evacuate,” Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said. “This is worst-case scenario.”

Manatee County Area Transit will suspend all fixed routes as of 6 p.m. ET, and two additional shelters will open in the county at noon, the statement said.

Manatee County is expected to provide a news briefing 2 p.m. ET Tuesday. Manatee County is just south of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

10:47 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Hillsborough County expands mandatory evacuation orders in the Tampa Bay area

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson 

Hillsborough County in Florida has upgraded a previous mandatory evacuation order to now include both Zones A and B, effective 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, said Bonnie Wise, County Administrator for Hillsborough County, during a briefing Tuesday morning.

What's important to note: This is an update from Monday’s order that included a mandatory evacuation order for Zone A and only a voluntary evacuation order for Zone B. Both zones now fall under mandatory evacuation orders.

This update affects about 90,000 more residents. Everyone in the mandatory zones must evacuate by 9 p.m. ET Tuesday evening. Hillsborough County’s mandatory evacuations affects about 390,000 residents, Wise said.

You can use this tool to find your evacuation zone in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County includes Tampa, Florida.

10:42 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Tampa Bay area could see unprecedented water levels — but experts say it depends on exact landfall location

From CNN's Judson Jones

The city of Tampa, Florida, is seen from above on Monday.
The city of Tampa, Florida, is seen from above on Monday. (DroneBase via AP)

The exact location of Hurricane Ian's landfall will make a dramatic difference in the location of the storm surge.

"Landfall in the southern part of the cone will take Tampa Bay out of the extreme surge and put Charlotte Harbor in the center of the worst conditions," according to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. "Landfall to the north of Tampa puts the massive surge right into Tampa Bay."

Fifty miles one way or the other changes everything.

If it makes landfall north of Tampa, this will push water levels to a height not seen in over 50 years of tide level records in the Tampa Bay area.

"This is a near worst-case approach angle coming in from the south and west and stalling," according to Jamie Rhome, the National Hurricane Center's acting director. "With it slowing down, this would be a near worst-case approach angle." 

That slowing forward momentum will allow for another extreme event to unfold. Obviously, there are damaging winds in the eyewall and the surge. Still, there is also the potential for flooding rainfalls, Myers said.

There is "the potential for rainfall totals of 20 to 25 inches as the storm appears to temporarily stall after landfall creating massive rainfall flash flooding," Myers said.

The average month of September brings about 6 inches of rain to the Tampa region.

10:33 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

What Hurricane Ian looked like as the sun rose over the Gulf this morning

Hurricane Ian made landfall in western Cuba early Tuesday morning while on its trek toward Florida.

Here's a satellite look at the Ian this morning as the sun rose over Florida, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico:

10:25 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

More than 15 million people will likely experience tropical storm-force winds. Here's when they'll arrive.

From CNN's Judson Jones

The National Hurricane Center now says Ian will maintain major hurricane intensity when it hits Florida.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center of Ian.

This means that more than 15 million people will likely experience tropical storm-force winds, including all of Tampa metro and other cities such as Orlando, Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

The most likely arrival of tropical storm-force winds:

  • Tuesday afternoon/evening: The Florida Keys
  • Tuesday overnight: Naples
  • Wednesday morning: Tampa
  • Wednesday evening: Orlando
  • Thursday morning: Tallahassee and Jacksonville
10:06 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian hits Cuban tobacco-growing region with strong winds and rain

(from Cubadebate)
(from Cubadebate)

Photos from the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba show damage, downed trees and flooding as Category 3 Hurricane Ian made landfall on the western side of the island country.

(from Cubadebate)
(from Cubadebate)