'We're not out of the woods yet': Tampa mayor urges residents to prepare for high winds and rain Wednesday night

She warned of unprecedented flooding when 18-20 inches of rain arrive tonight.

click to enlarge 'Hurricane Ian is coming to visit us tonight,' Castor said in an 11:30 a.m. press conference. - Photo viaJaneCastor/Twitter
Photo viaJaneCastor/Twitter
'Hurricane Ian is coming to visit us tonight,' Castor said in an 11:30 a.m. press conference.

As tropical storm force winds moved into the area, knocking out power to more than 10,000 people in both Hillsborough and Pinellas, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor made clear that the Bay area is "not out of the woods yet."

"Hurricane Ian is coming to visit us tonight," Castor said in an 11:30 a.m. press conference, warning of what's likely to be unprecedented flooding when 18-20 inches of rain arrive in Tampa Wednesday night.

"We could possibly see Category 1 winds here in the Bay area, so we're going to see downed trees are going to these are going to see power outages," Castor said. "Please, please do not let your guard down now. Let's remain vigilant."

Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall between Venice and Fort Myers at around 2 p.m. today, bringing "life threatening" storm surge to the Lee and Charlotte counties. The storm is expected to weaken after it makes landfall, says the National Hurricane Center, but conditions will still be extremely dangerous as it barrels towards Polk County and Orlando.

Hillsborough County has ordered mandatory evacuations for residents of zones A and B., while Pinellas and Pasco have ordered evacuations for A, B, and C.

Tampa Fire Chief Barbara Tripp urged residents to stay off the streets to keep them clear for first responders, while Police Chief Mary O'Connor warned of increased penalties for property crimes.

Residents in both Hillsborough and Pinellas can check their power outage status online, and resources are available below.

Hillsborough
  • City of Tampa information line 1-833-872-4636 or tampa.gov/hurricane
  • Electricity outage 1-877-588-1010 or tampaelectric.com/poweroutages
  • City of Tampa fallen tree on city streets and sidewalks (813-274-5744, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), (813-931-2168, after hours 5 p.m.-midnight) and (813-274-3101, midnight-8 a.m.)
  • City of Tampa wastewater emergency repair and sewer backup 813-247-3451
  • City of Tampa water department emergency services (24 hours) 813-274-7400
Pinellas
  • Pinellas County Information Center 727-464-4333 bit.ly/pinellaschat
  • City of St. Pete services center 727-893-7111
State of Florida price gouging hotline 1-866-966-7226