Mandatory Evacuations Ordered in Hillsborough County; Potential Storm Surge Could Reach 10 Feet
Florida - Monday September 26, 2022: As Hurricane Ian continues to track towards the west coast of Florida Hillsborough County officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation for around 300,000 residents and Hernando County officials have issued a call for voluntary evacuations for some parts of that county.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for portions of Florida's west coast as Hurricane Ian continues to gain strength. Ian could bring damaging winds to the west coast by Wednesday evening according to Acting National Hurricane Center Director Jamie Rhome.
“And you can see the highest damaging wind potential on the west coast of Florida. Hence watches for the western part of the Florida Peninsula, " said Rhome. "Tropical storm warning for the keys and most importantly a hurricane watch is now in effect for portions of the western coast of Florida.”
Those damaging winds could begin to impact the Florida Keys by Tuesday night. “In the lower Keys and southwestern Florida that is Tuesday evening is when conditions would start to spread over that area. Then those conditions spreading northward and reaching the Tampa Bay area by sunrise Wednesday," he said.
Above all the expected storm surge has prompted evacuation orders the forecast predicts the surge could be between 5 feet in the Keys up to 10 feet around Tampa Bay.
“Why this big range of 5 to ten feet? Because if the center stays a little bit offshore, (it) may be closer to five, but if the center comes just a little bit east and puts that strongest winds, that strongest onshore flow, then we could get that 10-foot storm surge.”