As Hurricane Ian strengthens to a Category 3 and heads toward Florida, more mandatory evacuations have been issued and more shelters are opening across the Tampa Bay area.
The storm has been called a "near worst-case scenario" for those in its path. While the storm’s track shifted to the south a bit today, Ian still poses an enormous threat to Tampa Bay. Residents are advised to finish preparations by the end of today, because the effects of Ian will be felt as early as Wednesday morning.
Ahead of the storm, multiple counties have issued evacuation orders, including for most of South Tampa and other flood-prone areas.
Evacuations and shelters:
Hillsborough County updated its previous mandatory evacuation order for Flood Zone A to include Flood Zone B, which basically covers all of South Tampa. The county estimates that around 390,000 people will be affected by the evacuation orders. All of the county’s shelters are now open.
Pinellas County issued evacuation orders for Zones A,B and C, with city officials urging residents to get away from the dangerous flood zones as soon as possible. Pinellas now has all of their shelters open except for one, according to the county website.
Pasco County announced evacuations in Zones A, B and C, essentially anywhere west of U.S.-19 and some other areas that are within flood zones. The county has announced that over 10 shelters have been opened for Ian.
Hernando County also issued a mandatory evacuation order for areas west of U.S.-19 and other low lying areas. The county has opened several hurricane shelters.
Most sandbag locations in all counties are now at capacity and will be shutting down after today.