Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents and visitors are now under evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian takes aim at the state.
Landfall now is expected sometime early Thursday near Tampa Bay, prompting evacuation orders in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties - home to St. Petersburg and Tampa, respectively. For theme park fans who are curious, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is not located within a designated evacuation zone, but the Tampa Bay area is currently under a Hurricane Watch.
In Orlando, sister park SeaWorld Orlando has canceled a Tuesday morning press event at which it was scheduled to announce the park's next roller coaster. That is the only official cancellation for Central Florida's theme parks at this point. Update: Busch Gardens Tampa will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. At Walt Disney World, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will close Wednesday through Friday.
If Ian strikes the Tampa Bay area as expected, it could bring an historic storm surge to Tampa Bay, flooding many low-lying areas. That's why officials are urging residents of those areas to get to higher ground immediately. If you would like to see which areas of the state are potentially at risk, here's the link to Florida's Hurricane Evacuation Zones map. Hillsborough County also has a PDF version for the county, with the addresses of shelters.
Zone A in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties is under mandatory evacuation right now, with that extending to Zones B and C in Pinellas County tomorrow morning. Zone B in Hillsborough is under a voluntary evacuation notice.
Some of those evacuees may end in the Orlando area, which often sees residents and visitors from the coast who head inland during storms. But the National Hurricane Center is forecasting a 60-70% chance of tropical storm-force winds in the Orlando on Thursday, so no one should expect the theme park area to escape Ian's effect.
Again, the latest information from the National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Ian can be found on the Hurricanes.gov website.
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