The International Space Station flew over Hurricane Ian today, Sept. 26, as it makes its way to Florida. Views from space put into perspective just how large this hurricane really is. Ian is on track to hit the west coast of Florida early on Wednesday. Additionally, it’s due to make landfall on the western tip of Cuba before that. It will hit Florida as a category 4 hurricane, with top winds of 140 mph. Check out the video of Hurricane Ian below.
The International Space Station flew over Hurricane Ian on Monday, capturing the breadth of the storm forecast to hit the western tip of Cuba as a major hurricane and later the west coast of Florida. https://t.co/TG51DINbHe pic.twitter.com/s9woAiMt1n— The Associated Press (@AP) September 26, 2022
Right now, the Tampa Bay area is the most likely target. This is the area’s first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, according to a report from AP News. “Strong persistent winds will push a lot of water into the bay and there’s nowhere for it to go, so it just builds up,” Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science, said to AP News. “Tampa Bay is very surge-prone because of its orientation.”
According to the National Hurricane Center, Tampa Bay should brace for storm surges between 5 and 10 feet. Additionally, the area should be prepared for rainfall between 10 and 15 inches. At the Emergency Operations Center in Largo, Cathie Perkins, Emergency Management Director in Pinellas County, told officials, “That’s a lot of rain. That’s not going to drain out quickly. This is no joke. This is life-threatening storm surge.”
“Please treat this storm seriously. It’s the real deal. This is not a drill,” said Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Timothy Dudley at a Tampa press conference.
Florida Governor Orders Evacuations for Tampa Bay Ahead of Hurricane Ian
Governor Ron DeSantis and Tampa officials made the announcement this morning, Sept. 26, that an estimated 300,000 Tampa Bay residents are ordered to evacuate. “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” said Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise at the press conference.
Wise recommended that residents should take shelter at least 20 miles inland. The storm surge in the bay will be one of the most dangerous aspects of Hurricane Ian. According to a 2015 report from the catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark and Co. out of Boston, Tampa Bay is the most vulnerable area to deadly storm surges in the US. The bay and the Gulf of Mexico are both shallow. When an over-abundance of water travels quickly into the bay, it creates deadly storm surges far above the usual tide levels.
Governor DeSantis assured residents that 5,000 National Guard personnel are on standby in Florida. Additionally, 2,000 personnel are prepared from nearby states like Georgia and Tennessee. Search and rescue teams are also prepared to respond to calls once Hurricane Ian hits. It’s important to evacuate if you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, though. If you need help and call 911, depending on the damage and weather conditions, it’s possible that first responders will be held back or unable to get to you.