Mass Evacuations Ordered in Florida as Unpredictable Ian Comes Calling

The people of the great state of Florida have long lived a life of sheer duality.

On one hand, they live in one of the most fun places in all of the United States.  They have beaches, nightlife, amusement parks, a plethora of sports teams, and mostly great weather.

But, on the other hand, they also need to deal with alligators, pythons, tons of massive insects, and, of course, the occasional hurricane.

It’s that last bit that has hundreds of thousands of Floridians heading for the hills this week.

Tropical Storm Ian strengthened into Hurricane Ian on Monday morning as coastal residents brace for major impacts from the storm as the week progresses.

Hurricane status was declared at around 5 a.m. as the storm’s winds strengthened to 75 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Ian is expected to become a significant hurricane within the next 48 hours. A hurricane watch was issued for Florida’s Gulf Coast, including Tampa Bay.placeholder

Hillsborough County, which contains Tampa, ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents living in the city’s coastal area. It also announced a voluntary evacuation for most of the rest of the county.

While some hurricanes are largely “wind events”, Ian appears to be trending toward being a “water event”, with storm surges of 15 feet possible in the already-shallow Tampa Bay.  As such, residents aren’t being asked to leave the state entirely.  Rather, authorities are suggesting that those in the affected areas seek shelter inland, away from the Gulf of Mexico.