Live Updates: Hurricane Ian now Category 2, track comes closer to Sarasota-Manatee

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Quick Sarasota-Manatee Hurricane Ian links:

The projected track of Hurricane Ian, as of 5 p.m. Monday.
The projected track of Hurricane Ian, as of 5 p.m. Monday.

8:30 p.m. I Sarasota County offers buses to evacuation shelters

Sarasota County announced that for those who cannot drive to hurricane evacuation shelters, buses will start serving 17 Transportation Rally Points at 11 a.m. Tuesday and ending at 8 p.m. – or when sustained winds reach 35 miles per hour.

Sarasota County will provide transportation to and from evacuation centers for people and their pets, with a limited amount of supplies.

Riders must bring a face mask and be prepared to wear it on the bus. Baggage is limited to two carry-on sized bags per person that can be stored under a seat or held on your lap. Pets must be in a crate or carrier.

Passengers cannot specify the shelter to which they will be transported. All transportation will cease within eight hours of expected landfall.

The Rally Points are:

• Buchan Airport Community Park/Kiwanis Park, 1390 Old Englewood Road, Englewood

• Colonial Oaks Park, 5300 Colonial Oaks Boulevard, Sarasota

• Englewood Sports Complex, 1300 S. River Road, Englewood

• Garden Elementary School, 700 Center Road, Venice

• George Mullen Activity Center, 1602 Kramer Way, North Port

• Laurel Park and Sandra Sims Terry Community Center, 509 Collins Road, Nokomis

• Lido Beach, 400 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota

• North Port Library, 13800 Tamiami Trail, North Port

• Pine View School athletic court facilities, 1 Python Path, Osprey

• Potter Park, 8687 Potter Park Drive, Sarasota

• Publix, Shoppes of Bay Isles, 525 Bay Isles Parkway, Longboat Key

• SCAT Downtown Transfer Station, 150 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota

• SCAT UTC Transfer Station, 500 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota

• Siesta Beach, 948 Beach Road, Sarasota

• Suncoast Technical College, 4445 Career Lane (off of N. Cranberry Boulevard), North Port

• Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice.

Individuals who are registered to receive evacuation transportation assistance are being notified. Pickups will begin on Tuesday. Those who are registered for medically dependent evacuation centers are being notified about their pickups.

5:00 p.m | Hurricane Ian grows much stronger, track comes closer to Sarasota-Manatee

Sarasota and Manatee counties are now under a hurricane warning, as Hurricane Ian's sustained winds grow dramatically to 100 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane Ian is now a Category 2 storm.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the area within 24 to 36 hours.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. update, Sarasota and Manatee counties can expect 6-12 inches of rain and a storm surge of 5-8 feet.

"Widespread considerable flash and urban flooding, and prolonged significant river flooding impacts are likely mid-to-late week across central and northern Florida," reads the NHC forecast.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Ian's track has again been adjusted slightly eastward, bringing the full power of the storm closer to Sarasota-Manatee.

The NHC expects hurricane-force winds in the hurricane warning area beginning Wednesday morning, with tropical storm conditions expected by late Tuesday.

Get hurricane updates in our mobile app: Download the updated Herald-Tribune app

What are evacuation zones?: Some coastal evacuations have started in West Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian. 

"There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge along much of the Florida west coast where a storm surge warning has been issued, with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region," said the NHC.

Free Uber rides to shelters in Manatee County

Ride-hailing service Uber announced Monday that it will be offering free round-trip $60 rides to and from state-approved evacuation shelters in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Pasco counties. Uber customers wanting the free ride should type "IANRELIEF" into the promo code when reserving an Uber ride.

North Port, Venice news; sandbags still available Tuesday

The city of North Port decided late Monday to postpone the Tuesday evening meeting of the North Port City Commission to Oct. 4.

The city of Venice still plans to host the Tuesday meeting of the Venice City Council at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Venice City Hall will be open from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday and then be closed the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday.

A self-service sandbag station will be available at Wellfield Park on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Empty sandbags will be available for city residents to pick up from the Public Works Department, 1350 Ridgewood Ave. Shovels will be provided. Limit 10 sandbags per household. Residents are encouraged to bring their own bags (standard trash bags) as well as their own shovels to expedite the process.

The South Jetty at Humphris Park is closed to the public until further notice.

The City Utilities Department urges customers to conserve water during the storm.

4:10 p.m. | What happens to Siesta Key, Longboat Key, Casey Key and Anna Maria islands when ordered to evacuate?

In a previous update (below), Manatee County explained that the water will be shut off to Anna Maria Island (as well as part of Longboat Key) after the mandatory evacuation order goes into effect on Tuesday. This is done to help protect the water system during Hurricane Ian.

Manatee County's evacuation shelters open at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning and water will be shut off to the island between 5-7 p.m. Tuesday.

The same thing will happen to Siesta Key and Casey Key: Sarasota County shelters open at noon on Tuesday and the water will be shut off to those islands between 5-7 p.m.

And once you leave the islands, don't plan on returning before the storm is over: Bridges will be closed and re-entry will be restricted.

3:30 p.m. | Water will be shut off to Anna Maria Island as evacuations are ordered in Manatee County

More than 100,000 Manatee County residents have been told or strongly recommended to evacuate by Tuesday night as Hurricane Ian swings toward the west coast of Florida.

That includes the entire island of Anna Maria, where water will be shut off to prevent damage to the county's water system infrastructure, County Administrator Scott Hopes said Monday afternoon.

"Make sure you are on your way off the island (before Tuesday night)," Hopes said. "You only have three bridges to choose from. Alright, be on one of them before sundown. Around an hour after sundown, the water will be shut off to the island."

All residents in evacuation zones A are under a mandatory evacuation, which includes anyone living in a mobile home. Residents living in evacuation zone B are strongly recommended to evacuate, Hopes said.

Hopes warned for people not to head to the shelters early as the shelters are prepared.

"We will have plenty of shelter space," he said. " You do not need to go to the school parking lots this afternoon or tonight and wait until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning."

The predicted track of Hurricane Ian, as of 2 p.m. Monday.
The predicted track of Hurricane Ian, as of 2 p.m. Monday.

2:00 p.m. | Hurricane Ian continues to intensify, path is worst-case scenario

Hurricane Ian has grown stronger, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 85 mph, with higher gusts, and the storm's track has stayed relatively the same as three hours before.

By 8 p.m  Wednesday, the NWS projects that Ian will be off of Sarasota as a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of 120 mph and a wind field 340 miles in diameter, moving north by northeast at 7 miles per hour.

The 1 p.m. Hurricane Ian briefing from the National Weather Service in Ruskin shows no change in timing or intensity for the storm, which is still a Category 1 storm.

The approach of Hurricane Ian is part of the worst-case scenario for Sarasota-Manatee, as the angle of the storm's approach could mean a larger storm surge threat, according to the NWS.

The three-day forecast still calls for rapid intensification into a major hurricane later Monday and Hurricane Ian is forecast to become a Category 4 storm in the Gulf of Mexico, with 140 mph sustained winds.

The potential for hazardous winds begins Tuesday night in Sarasota and Manatee counties, along with an elevated threat of tornadoes, and continues through Thursday.

Wednesday and Thursday.sees the greatest threat of storm surge and flooding in Sarasota-Manatee, with river flooding becoming a factor Thursday and Friday and persisting through the weekend.

Projected rainfall from the storm is 10 inches for much of the region, with potential for more along the barrier islands and in northwest Manatee County.

1:30 p.m. | Manatee County officially closes schools starting Tuesday

All Manatee County schools and after-school activities will be closed beginning Tuesday, Sept. 27, according to an official post on social media. All district support sites will also be closed.

1:08 p.m. | Sarasota County orders Level A evacuation

Sarasota County called an evacuation of Level A at a midday press conference Monday.

Level A includes the red areas on the county’s evacuation map and anyone who lives in a mobile home, a boat, or an RV. Find an evacuation center near you here or call 311.

Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said that all of the county’s evacuation centers will open tomorrow at noon.

McCrane said that people should eat a meal before going to the shelter and should bring bedding, water, toiletries, a flashlight and other disaster supplies with them.  Meals will be provided at the shelter, but residents should bring snacks.

“Remember these evacuation shelters are a last resort measure,” he said. “If you can stay with friends or family or leave the area or make other arrangements, that would be better for you.”

McCrane said the primary reason the county calls evacuations is storm surge.

“Based on the information that we have – National Weather Service – there’s a potential for enough storm surge to affect Level A,” he said.

“Make good decisions and follow through on the recommendations that we give,” County Administrator Jonathan Lewis said at the press conference.

1:05 p.m. | Venice declares emergency

The city of Venice declared a local state of emergency in response to Hurricane Ian, with City Manager Ed Lavallee signing the executive order Monday morning.

As part of the order, all city buildings will be closed at noon Tuesday. The Venice City Council is still scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The coastal portion of Venice is within Level A – Sarasota County issued an evacuation for homes in Level A earlier Monday.

The local state of emergency puts in force the city’s Emergency Management Plan and allows Lavalle to make purchasing and rental decisions needed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of city residents.

12:35 p.m. | Officials warn impacts to area could be significant

Officials believe Hurricane Ian could have a more significant impact on Manatee-Sarasota-Charlotte counties than any hurricane of recent memory – including Hurricane Charley in 2004.

“Currently what they’re forecasting right now is very significant impacts for the West Coast of Florida, which we haven’t seen in probably about that long,” Christianne Pearce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, said Monday morning. “Definitely some significant storm surge, significant rainfall especially because the storm has slowed down a bit.

“The longer it sits on the coast, the more rain it's going to bring. So we wouldn’t just have the storm surge to deal with but also inland flooding and river flooding and stuff like that as well.”

Dr. Rick Knabb, a former NWS hurricane expert who now works for The Weather Channel, noted on Twitter that Charley was small and quick moving, while Ian will be much slower and more parallel to the coast – extending the impact to days instead of hours.

Pearce said that the forecast calls for Ian to weaken as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico, but it could still be a Category 3 hurricane when it’s off the coast of Sarasota County by Tuesday evening.

“The coast can definitely see some strong winds but really the surge and the rainfall are going to be significant and probably unlike anything that we’ve seen in quite a while,” she added.

When Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Naples area in 2017 and proceeded up the state, it weakened and was already a Category 2 by the time it approached Fort Myers.

“When it was near Sarasota it was a Category 2,” Pearce said.

“They had max winds at about 100 miles per hour,” she added while consulting NWS logs. “That would be closer to where the center was and the center was inland from Sarasota so even as you got closer to Sarasota it was even less than that but they were still considered hurricane force winds at that time.”

“When it moved up towards Tampa it became a (Category) 1.”

12:10 p.m. | City of Sarasota declares local state of emergency for Hurricane Ian

In preparation and response to Hurricane Ian, the City of Sarasota has declared a local state of emergency, according to a release.

"City leadership is monitoring the storm closely and coordinating with the Sarasota County emergency management team and community partners to make determinations, including possible evacuations. Storm preparations are underway with crews clearing storm water drains, positioning mobile generators in key areas to ensure continuity of utilities services, notifying construction contractors to secure sites and construction cranes and removing potential projectiles from parks, " said the release.

Noon | Looking bleak for Sarasota-Manatee high school football this week

The prospects of having high school football games this week are bleak, thanks to Hurricane Ian.

“All athletic activities, including practices and games, are canceled beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) until further notice,” Sarasota County director of athletics James Slaton said. “We’ll know more once it gets over Cuba, but as of right now we are just preparing. We are opening shelters beginning tomorrow (Tuesday).”

For most area teams and throughout the state, this is the first week for district play in football, so these games are mandatory as far as scheduling goes.

“Football is the only one where we are mandated to play these games,” Slaton said. “The plan will be to make up those games. But our first priority is obviously safety and security. And then we’ll try to work them out.”

Do not expect anything to be made up this weekend or Monday, Oct. 3.

11:30 a.m. | Manatee County orders evacuations, closes schools for Hurricane Ian

Manatee County has issued evacuations to begin tomorrow, in anticipation of Hurricane Ian.

"Following the updated forecast of Hurricane Ian, public safety officials are announcing plans for evacuations, beginning with a MANDATORY Zone A evacuation and VOLUNTARY Zone B evacuation, effective at 8 a.m., Tuesday, September 27," according to a press release.

(Find your evacuation zone in Manatee County here.)

Though no official announcement has been made, since shelters are located in public schools, we can assume that Manatee County schools will be closed on Tuesday.

In addition, Manatee County parks, libraries, animal welfare facilities, and building and construction inspection services will be closed or suspended beginning tomorrow, until further notice.

Hurricane Ian: See spaghetti models, path and storm activity for Florida

11:15 a.m. | Sarasota County Schools will close on Tuesday

In a press release, Sarasota County announced that Sarasota County schools will be closed tomorrow, Sept. 27.

Sarasota County schools will close Tuesday, Sept. 27, out of an abundance of caution and to allow for time to prepare schools that serve as emergency evacuation centers.

While there are no evacuations issued at this time, the county is expecting to announce an evacuation alert for Level A on Tuesday morning.

“As the storm approaches, we are here to serve our community with our schools and personnel to provide sheltering. We will continue to communicate updates with employees and families throughout the storm as information becomes available. The latest information can be found on our website and all our social media channels,” said Dr. Brennan Asplen, Superintendent of Schools.

11:00 a.m. | Hurricane Ian strengthens, Sarasota-Manatee in danger

According to the 11 a.m. National Hurricane Center update, Hurricane Ian's storm track has shifted slightly closer to Sarasota and Manatee counties and the storm is moving slower. Sustained wind speeds have increased to 80 mph.

The slower speed is especially alarming.

"An even greater concern is the slower forward motion that is forecast during this period, as the upper trough passes north and east of Ian and the steering currents weaken," said the NHC forecast. "This would likely prolong the storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts along the affected portions of the west coast of Florida, although the roughly shore-parallel track still makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what locations will experience the most severe impacts."

The NHC has also increased the storm surge forecast for Sarasota County to 5-10 feet, while Manatee County has remained the same at 5-8 feet.

The forecast also warns of "life-threatening storm surge," with the "highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region."

Because of the slight slowdown, tropical storm conditions are expected in Sarasota and Manatee counties Tuesday night, with hurricane-force winds beginning Wednesday morning.

Hurricane Ian: See spaghetti models, path and storm activity for Florida

10:45 a.m. | Sarasota County expects evacuations to start Tuesday morning

According to a Twitter post, Sarasota County Government expects to announce an evacuation alert for Level A beginning Tuesday morning. This would also indicate that Sarasota County schools will be closed Tuesday, although no official announcement has been made.

The campus of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
The campus of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.

10:30 a.m. | New College and Ringling College cancel classes in advance of Hurricane Ian

Ringling College of Art and Design has canceled classes today through Friday, and plans to close its campus effective noon on Tuesday.

"Out of an abundance of caution and due to the uncertain trajectory of the storm at this time, the decision has been made to close the Ringling College campus effective TUESDAY (9/27), by 12:00 noon," said the school on its website.

Ringling students will need to vacate campus housing by noon on Tuesday.

New College has similarly canceled classes beginning at 10 a.m. today through Friday. The school has not yet announced if students will need to leave campus.

10:00 a.m. | Sarasota County declares state of emergency

Sarasota County declared a state of emergency on Monday in preparation for Hurricane Ian.

The declaration document states that the hurricane is tracking in a direction that could bring it to the Sarasota County area within the next 48 hours, “creating an imminent threat of severe weather, excessive rainfall, and flooding.”

In a video update Monday morning, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said the declaration allows the county to begin using funds and purchasing equipment and services that normally would have to go through the lengthy procurement process.

McCrane said this “doesn’t mean anything’s imminent” or that “it’s a dire emergency at this moment.”

“But we’re preparing for that eventuality,” he said.

Hurricane Ian: See spaghetti models, path and storm activity for Florida

USF Sarasota-Manatee campus
USF Sarasota-Manatee campus

9:45 a.m. | USF cancels classes, will close campuses

According to a release, University of South Florida classes will be canceled starting Monday, Sept. 26, through Thursday, Sept. 29. This will allow for students to make any necessary preparations or travel ahead of the storm.

All campuses will begin closing Tuesday, Sept 27.

9:20 a.m. | North Port declares state of emergency

The North Port City Commission approved a local state of emergency this morning that will run in conjunction with the statewide declaration for Hurricane Ian.

The emergency gives City Manager Jerome Fletcher or his designee authorization to procure goods and services needed to address the hurricane without going through traditional formalities.

North Port Public Works Director Chuck Speake said city workers have been working to lower water levels in the 80 miles of canals and waterways, to minimize the impact of flooding.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that the City is well-prepared for the impending storm,” said Fletcher. “We’ve been in constant contact with our partners at Sarasota County and the state, and while North Port could see significant impacts in the coming days, I’m confident that our team is ready to respond.”

The projected path of Hurricane Ian as of 8 a.m. Monday.
The projected path of Hurricane Ian as of 8 a.m. Monday.

8 a.m. | Hurricane Ian could bring 5-8 foot storm surge, 8-10 inches of rain

Little has changed with Hurricane Ian, according to the 8 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, as the path of the storm continues to include Sarasota and Manatee counties.

"Rapid strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Ian is forecast to become a major hurricane tonight when it is near western Cuba," said the NHC forecast.

Get hurricane updates in our mobile app: Download the updated Herald-Tribune app

Both Sarasota and Manatee counties are under a hurricane watch and a storm surge watch, and can still expect a storm surge of 5-8 feet and rainfall of 8-10 inches.

According to the National Weather Service Ruskin, both Sarasota and Manatee counties can expect to experience tropical storm force winds beginning as soon as Tuesday afternoon or evening.

School is in session in both Sarasota and Manatee counties today, with likely closures to be announced later today.

The path of Hurricane Ian as of 5 a.m. Monday.
The path of Hurricane Ian as of 5 a.m. Monday.

5:00 a.m. | It's now Hurricane Ian, storm track shifts closer to Sarasota-Manatee

Tropical Storm Ian is now Hurricane Ian. Sarasota and Manatee counties are now under a Hurricane Watch that extends from Englewood to the north of Tampa, as well as a Storm Surge Watch.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. update, the storm's sustained winds are at 75 mph, pushing it onto hurricane status.

Though the track has shifted to the east, there is still major uncertainty about the path of Hurricane Ian. According to the NHC, Sarasota and Manatee counties can expect a storm surge of 5-8 feet and rainfall of 8-10 inches.

Hurricane Ian: Find all of our latest coverage of the storm

Shelters: Find a list of Manatee and Sarasota hurricane shelters here.

"Considerable flooding impacts are possible later this week in west central Florida," said the NHC in its update.

The Sarasota-Manatee area can expect to experience rain and tropical storm conditions as early as Tuesday evening, while the bulk of Hurricane Ian's impact on the area will take place on Wednesday and Thursday. Hurricane Ian is expected to be a major hurricane – with winds greater than 110 mph – by the middle of the week.

"Ian is likely to have an expanding wind field and will be slowing down by that time, which will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts along the west coast of Florida," said the NHC forecast.

Are schools open in Sarasota and Manatee counties?

Schools are open as normal in both Sarasota and Manatee counties on Monday, Sept. 26. Both districts will likely announce early in the day about closures for the rest of the week. Since most hurricane shelters in both counties are located in schools, closures are probable if Hurricane Ian threatens to have an impact on the area.

People stand in line for breakfast being served in the disaster shelter at Riverview High School in Sarasota in advance of Hurricane Irma in 2017. The shelter quickly reached capacity and closed to new evacuees. Sarasota County is in the process of hardening schools in mid-county into storm shelters.
People stand in line for breakfast being served in the disaster shelter at Riverview High School in Sarasota in advance of Hurricane Irma in 2017. The shelter quickly reached capacity and closed to new evacuees. Sarasota County is in the process of hardening schools in mid-county into storm shelters.

Where are hurricane shelters in Sarasota and Manatee counties?

If you live in a hurricane evacuation zone or a mobile home, you must evacuate when the evacuation order is issued. Your first choice should be to stay with a friend or family member living close by but who is not in a flood-vulnerable area.

(You can find your Sarasota County hurricane evacuation zone here and your Manatee County hurricane evacuation zone here.)

Do not head to a shelter until they are officially opened by Sarasota or Manatee counties. They will announce on their websites, through social media and through the Herald-Tribune when shelters are opening.

Find a list of Manatee and Sarasota hurricane shelters here.

Preparing for Tropical Storm Ian: Where to get sandbags in Sarasota, Manatee counties

Tropical Storm Ian: See spaghetti models, path and storm activity for Florida

Get hurricane updates in our mobile app: Download the updated Herald-Tribune app

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This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Live Updates: Hurricane Ian now Category 2, track comes closer to Sarasota-Manatee