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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12:42 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Here's a list of the warnings and watches currently in effect in Florida

From CNN's Judson Jones

A storm surge warning along the west coast of Florida was expanded to include the area from Suwanee River to Anclote River, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. 

A storm surge warning was also issued for the US east coast from Marineland, Florida, to the mouth of St. Mary's River, including the St. Johns River, and the Dry Tortugas.

Here is a list of all the warnings currently in effect:

A hurricane warning:

  • Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio, and Artemisa
  • Bonita Beach to Anclote River, including Tampa Bay
  • Dry Tortugas

A storm surge warning:

  • Suwanee River southward to Flamingo
  • Tampa Bay
  • Dry Tortugas
  • Marineland to the mouth of the St. Mary's River
  • St. Johns River

A tropical storm warning:

  • Cuban provinces of La Habana, Mayabeque, and Matanzas
  • Suwannee River to the Anclote River
  • Flamingo to Bonita Beach
  • Lower and Middle Florida Keys
  • Boca Raton to Altamaha Sound
  • Lake Okeechobee

A storm surge watch:

  • Florida Keys from the Card Sound Bridge westward to Key West
  • Florida Bay
  • Aucilla River to Suwanee River
  • Mouth of St. Mary's River to South Santee River
  • South of Marineland to the Volusia/Flagler county line

A hurricane watch:

  • North of Anclote River to Suwannee River
  • South of Bonita Beach to Chokoloskee

A tropical storm watch:

  • North of Suwannee River to Indian Pass
  • North of Altamaha Sound to South Santee River
  • South of Boca Raton to east of Flamingo
  • Upper Florida Keys
  • Florida Bay
12:32 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian is currently in the Gulf of Mexico, National Hurricane Center says

A satellite image taken at 12:01 p.m. ET shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico.
A satellite image taken at 12:01 p.m. ET shows Hurricane Ian over the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA/NASA)

The center of Hurricane Ian is positioned in the far southeastern Gulf of Mexico as of 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to the latest update by the National Hurricane Center.

The forecast says Ian is about 285 miles from Sarasota, Florida, and about 110 miles from the Dry Tortugas, a national park made up of seven small islands.

The hurricane center said it will release hourly forecasts as long as the eye of the storm "is easily trackable by land-based radar."

12:38 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Tampa is preparing for a "devastating amount of water," mayor says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Devon Sayers

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks at a press conference on Tuesday.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks at a press conference on Tuesday. (CNN)

While Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Tuesday morning said the forecast for Hurricane Ian’s impact on the city “hasn’t changed a great deal,” the slow-moving storm is expected to bring a “devastating amount of water” to the Tampa Bay area.

Castor also said she received a call from President Biden, who said he also had Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell in his office.

“He just wanted to ensure that we had all the resources that we needed and clearly wishing us the best,” Castor said.

Castor said a thunderstorm on Monday evening already saturated the ground and caused street closures.

“We are doing all that we can right now … to mitigate pumping water out of our stormwater ponds, letting water over the dam, doing all that we can to make sure that that water has a clear path, somewhere to go,” the mayor said.

“It's going to be in our rivers, it's going to be in our streams, it's going to be in our canals, it's going to be in our stormwater drains and ditches,” Castor added. 

“It can get better if the storm comes ashore a little south of us, and I don't know that it can get much worse, but I'm sure there's a scenario that says that it could,” the mayor said. “Right now, a storm that slows down for 24 to 48 hours and just continuously dumps rain into the Tampa Bay area is devastating.”

A curfew is expected to be implemented, Castor said.

“We are prepared to secure these neighborhoods as best we can so that anyone that does not belong in these neighborhoods is not coming back in post evacuation,” Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor added.

Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Barbara Tripp said crews are currently helping to evacuate the nursing homes that are in the evacuation area, assisting with evacuating those patients to facilities on higher grounds. At least 41 patients from a nursing home in south Tampa are being relocated to central Tampa, Tripp said.

City officials have also been speaking to CEOs of hospitals throughout the city.

O’Connor said a storm barrier has been put up around Tampa General Hospital.

“So this is going to be the test right here, but I've talked to them and they aren't evacuating anyone at this point,” O’Connor said. “But they have systems in place that individuals will be protected. And they have plenty of resources, generators working, and they're comfortable that they can protect their patients at Tampa General.”

12:15 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

"People should anticipate losing power" for possibly days, Florida governor says

(WFTS)
(WFTS)

Floridians should be prepared to lose power once the storm hits, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in an update on Tuesday.

"People should anticipate losing power. When you have a storm of this magnitude, that's what happens. It knocks down trees, it knocks down power lines. When you're making preparations, just be prepared to be able to make do without having consistent power," he said.

DeSantis also said the duration of power loss could last more than just a few days depending on how Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

Loss of power "may be a matter of days. It may be more than just a few days. It really depends on the intensity of the storm, and it depends on how much structural damage is done to the underlying infrastructure that powers our state," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, energy companies announced that thousands of workers from across the US will be sent to safe locations in Florida and also Georgia to help with power restoration efforts.

11:54 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Cuba's Pinar del Rio province loses power after Ian rips through western part of country

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann in Havana

Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Rio has lost power, according to Cuban state television on Tuesday.

Hurricane Ian hit Cuba’s western province, an area noted for its tobacco farms. State media posted photos of downed fences and destruction at the Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Plantation, one of Cuba’s most famous tobacco farms.

12:08 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Residents in Tampa area wait for hours for free sandbags

From CNN’s Rachel Ramirez

People line up in their vehicles to get sand bags in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday.
People line up in their vehicles to get sand bags in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images)

With Hurricane Ian barreling toward Florida, coastal residents are scrambling to secure their homes.

On Tuesday morning in the Tampa area, long lines of cars waited for hours to get free sandbags at distribution sites.

In flood-prone regions, sandbags are used around doorways as barriers to prevent flood water from entering homes. But depending on the height of Ian’s storm surge, officials have warned sandbags might not provide enough protection.

Nearly 7 million people residing along the coast between Fort Myers and Clearwater, including all of Tampa Bay, are under a storm surge warning.

As of 11 a.m. ET, a storm surge of five to eight feet was forecast in and around Tampa Bay. Even the low range of storm surge forecast would still be the highest water levels ever recorded for the area.

The city of Tampa is limiting each vehicle to 10 filled sandbags. Tampa distribution sites will close at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the city said.

12:15 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Florida governor warns of catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge

From CNN’s Pamela Kirkland

(WWSB)
(WWSB)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis encouraged residents to prepare for historic flooding and storm surge on Tuesday, encouraging Floridians under evacuation orders to heed those warnings.

“It is now a major hurricane,” DeSantis said. “Understand the impacts are going to be far, far broader than just where the eye of the storm happens to make landfall. In some areas, there will be catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge.”

DeSantis said the most recent forecast had landfall south of Tampa Bay, in the Sarasota area, threatening severe flooding and an estimated 5 to 10 feet of storm surge. 

Florida Director of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie, said the National Hurricane Center is predicting the landfall to be Venice, Florida in 35 hours at 125 miles per hour “making that a major Category 3 landfalling hurricane.”

Guthrie continued that residents of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties should continue to heed warnings and not return to their homes.

About 2.5 million Floridians are currently under some kind of evacuation order, according to Florida officials. 

“Mother nature is a very fearsome adversary. So please heed those warnings. You do not need to evacuate to another state. You don't need to go hundreds of miles away. There are shelters that are open and all of these counties at this point,” said DeSantis

According to the governor, Florida has activated 5,000 National Guard members with an additional 2,000 members from other states. More than 28,000 people are staged for power restorations across the state of Florida. 

Twenty-six school districts announced closures as of Tuesday morning. DeSantis said he expected more closures to be announced as the track of the storm becomes clearer. 

11:45 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian stymies Artemis rocket launch

From CNN's Kristin Fisher, Jackie Wattles and Ashley Strickland

NASA has rolled the massive Artemis I mega moon rocket back into its hangar, called the Vehicle Assembly Building, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to protect it from Hurricane Ian.

The move, which concluded at 9:15 a.m. ET Tuesday, delays the third launch attempt for the Artemis I mission, which is slated to send an uncrewed capsule around the moon, for at least a few weeks.

“Managers decided to roll back based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian not showing improving expected conditions for the Kennedy area. The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system,” NASA noted on its Artemis blog.

The agency will host a news conference today at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the rollback decision. Janet Petro, director of the Kennedy Space Center, will provide a big picture look at all of the hurricane preparations taking place at the complex.

“After the storm has passed, teams will conduct inspections to determine impacts at the center and establish a forward plan for the next launch attempt, including replacing the core stage flight termination system batteries and retesting the system to ensure it can terminate the flight if necessary for public safety in the event of an emergency during launch,” according to an update in the Artemis blog.

The setback would likely push NASA’s next try into November, though late October potentially could still be an option for the highly anticipated launch.

11:33 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Florida could see water "in places we've never seen it before," says St. Petersburg mayor

(CNN)
(CNN)

Storm surges and rain from Hurricane Ian could mean that Florida sees water in places it's never seen before, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch told CNN.

"We'll see water in places we've never seen it before. When you talk about 10 or 15 inches of rain on top of the surge — that is unprecedented. No infrastructure is build for that," he told CNN. "So we could be looking at impacts to our sewer system, to wastewater. So that is what folks need to understand. We've never seen this level of surge threat before. And they need to respond to that in the way that makes sense." 

The mayor expressed confidence that Florida can get through this as long as people act responsibly.

"We can get through this because we've got the science and data. We know where the storm surge will be. But that depends on folks being responsible," he said. "At a certain point these folks are going to be on their own and we're not going to send first responders out and put them in danger when there are tropical storm force winds."

When Florida faces hurricane-force winds, Welch emphasized that first responders will not go out because it puts their lives in danger.

"You should have a plan already. You should have your storm kit, and you should know your evacuation zone. If you don't, go to storm.pinellascounty.org. Find your evacuation level. You can find shelter — we've got 25 shelters in the country, set up working with the school board and the county. The infrastructure is there, we just need people to act responsibly and take advantage of the help," he told CNN.