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Home LATEST NEWS Hurricane Ian approaches Florida's Gulf Coast | National News

Hurricane Ian approaches Florida’s Gulf Coast | National News

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday warned Floridians to heed evacuation warnings stemming from Hurricane Ian, which has grown into a major storm.

“I can tell you that our biggest concern as we wait for the storm to make landfall is storm surge,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said at a White House news conference on Tuesday. “And I will point out that storm surge is one of the leading causes of hurricane-related deaths.”

He noted that in 2018, storm surge from Hurricane Michael killed five people in Florida.

“So therefore, if people are told by local officials to evacuate, please listen to them,” Criswell said. “The decision you choose to make can mean the difference between life and death.”

Areas under partial or full evacuation orders include Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Charlotte County, Citrus County, Hernando County, Levy County, Lee County, and St. Johns County.
The center of Hurricane Ian is expected to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday. It is currently a Category 3 hurricane, although it is expected to strengthen Tuesday through Wednesday after making landfall in Cuba on Tuesday morning. The National Hurricane Center expects Hurricane Ian to approach Florida’s west coast as an “extremely dangerous large hurricane.”

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“We’re talking about impacts to a part of Florida that hasn’t seen a major direct impact in almost 100 years,” Criswell said. “There are also parts of Florida where there are a lot of new residents who have never experienced this type of threat.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, life-threatening storm surge is becoming more likely along much of Florida’s west coast, with the greatest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay area, which is the region where the storm is expected to make landfall.

“By the time it reaches the Florida coast, the storm will slow down to about 5 miles per hour,” Criswell said. “And this is significant because what this means is that Floridians will experience the impacts of the storm for a very long time.”

Beginning Wednesday morning, hurricane-force winds are expected in hurricane warning areas in southwest and west-central Florida. Tropical storm conditions are expected Tuesday night.

“Residents should hurry to complete all preparations today,” the National Hurricane Center stated.

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