On Wednesday, September 28, South Carolina NPS sites began closing for the safety of visitors and staff. Fort Sumter National Historical Park, alongside Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, will not admit any visitors as of today as the state prepares for what is now bordering an “apocalyptic” Category 5 storm in Florida.
Currently, Hurricane Ian is bearing down on the Florida coast as a Category 4 storm. ABC News reports maximum sustained winds of up to 155 mph, and the storm’s eyewall is “moving on shore threatening catastrophic storm surge.”
Already, over 315,000 Florida residents are without power. All use of South Carolina national parks has been paused as a result. No special park use permits will be issued until further notice. The Liberty Square Visitor Education Center also closed today. In addition, NPS cites that all concession-operated ferry trips to Fort Sumter have been suspended as of today.
Fort Moultrie National Historic Park will close starting Thursday, September 29. As NPS states, “All closures will remain in place until severe weather passes… And the National Park Service conducts post-storm assessments to determine that employee and visitor facilities are safe. Current status of the parks will be posted as an alert on the park’s websites.”
More Georgia National Parks Also Closing for Hurricane Ian
Over in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Fort Frederica National Monument will close to the public at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28. The park will remain closed until after the storm has passed, the park cites in their media release.
St. Marys, Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore previously closed to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 27. As with all national park sites above, the seashore will not re-open until damage assessments have been made and the park is deemed safe for visitation.
If the storm track changes, the parks may issue a new advisory with updated status, including any lifting of closures. Please check the NPS Hurricane and Severe Weather Response for updates on all National Park Service sites.
Florida’s own national parks are all shut down, as well. Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, and Biscayne National Park would all close this week in preparation for Hurricane Ian’s near-record-breaking winds.
Jacksonville’s Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is also closed. The park’s NPS sites include Fort Caroline National Memorial, Kingsley Plantation, Cedar Point, the Theodore Roosevelt Area, and Spanish Pond.
“The projected forecast and potential for tornadoes, high winds, flooding, extreme high tides, and downed trees, will likely create hazardous conditions,” the park cited.
“Potential weather impacts associated with Hurricane Ian are being taken seriously, for the safety of our visitors and employees. Timucuan Preserve will be closed until conditions improve” added park Superintendent Chris Hughes.