Pinellas County, Florida officials are warning residents about the storm surge and wind impact from Hurricane Ian.
“This could be the storm that we’ve hoped would never come to our shores,” St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said during a news briefing Monday.
During a news conference on Monday, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said most paths have Hurricane Ian hitting Pinellas County in the next 48 hours. He said the storm surge will be significant and the impacts of wind will be felt before the eye.
The storm surge will be strong enough to flip a house, tear off a roof and down power lines and trees, Burton said.
Hurricane Ian is trending to slow down and could potentially sit on Pinellas County for 47 hours, Cathie Perkins, Pinellas County Director of Emergency Management said.
Officials have been planning for a Category 3 hurricane to hit and are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain, Perkins added.
The county is planning for evacuations due to concerns over storm surge, Perkins said.
Perkins cautioned people to check their evacuation zone as evacuation zones were changed in 2022 and “it changed for a significant number of people in the county,” Perkins added.
Officials are opening emergency shelters today at 6 p.m. and more will open tomorrow, Perkins said.
Officials are asking long-term care facilities to evacuate today and some hospitals have already started evacuating, Perkins added.
Pinellas County, which is part of the Tampa Bay area, includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg, Florida.