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Live updates: Hurricane Ian moves toward Florida. Here's where to find news for SWFL

Note to readers: Get live updates for Tuesday hereBelow was a live blog with important news and information about Hurricane Ian from Monday. It covers Lee and Collier counties. 

11:08 PM | The latest on the track of Hurricane Ian

According the the 11 p.m. advisory by the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ian's winds have increased to 105 mph. The storm is moving north, northwest at 13 mph as it continues to strengthen.

There will be land interaction coming up with Cuba nd them Ian will travel into the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.

The forecast is for Hurricane Ian's winds to reach 140 mph by Tuesday night.

9:10 PM | Lee County holds off on shelters, evacuations decision

As day led into night Monday, no decision had been made on opening shelters, a decision that includes assessing which shelters would open and when.

More information was expected overnight before decisions were made.

Hurricane Ian 11 p.m. advisory for Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.
Hurricane Ian 11 p.m. advisory for Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

"(It's) based on the forecast overnight, which will have an awful lot to do about the wind velocity and how much water we anticipate being pushed on shore, from the tidal surges and the rainfall," County Manager Roger Desjarlais said at a 3 p.m. Monday briefing. "Once we have the a better grasp on all of that dynamic, we will have a better idea of in what area we may have evacuations and make a determination on what shelters will be open."

Desjarlais said the impact will probably be different in various parts of the county since each could require a different response.

"It is reasonable that evacuations will be in low lying areas along the coast and the river  followed by those who are affected by torrential rainfall," Desjarlais said. "It is early to try and divine exactly what areas of (hurricane) Zone A  will be called for evacuation."

"We have been watching this storm for almost a week now.  The forecast track has changed somewhat over the last couple of days," said Desjarlais, who has been involved in hurricane preparation and recovery over four decades.

Lee County declared a state of local emergency Monday morning, what comes next will depend on overnight conditions.

"There will be questions about evacuation and sheltering," Desjarlais said. "Those decisions have not been made yet. We are fully prepared to take actions depending on what the storm does.

9:08 PM | Airport making preparations ahead of Ian's arrival

Southwest Florida International Airport was operating normally Monday, but Executive Executive Director Ben Siegel said that could change in coming days. He encouraged travelers to check airline web sites for the status of their flights.

Meanwhile, the airport was beginning preparations.

"What that means is to secure all the equipment at the airport," said Siegel. That means ground service equipment, whether to tie down our jet bridges ... Page Field: All tenants have been notified so that they're prepared and are taking care of their personal aircrafts and their equipment."

7:39 PM | How Florida plans to handle heavy traffic volume from Floridians evacuating from Ian

Florida’s top emergency management official said he expects more traffic on Florida roads because more Hurricane Ian evacuation orders are expected to be issued Wednesday for residents in counties in the Tampa Bay region, and north and south of the area.

“We’re going to start having traffic issues” on Wednesday as motorists drive out of the area, Florida Emergency Management Direct Kevin Guthrie told CNN on Tuesday night.

He said the state is likely to employ an “emergency shoulder use” strategy to add more lanes to handle the heavy volume of traffic due to Ian.

He encouraged motorists to visit the Florida Department of Transportation website to learn about the state’s “emergency shoulder use.” The website notes the different interstates and highways that could be expanded before the storm strikes.

https://www.fdot.gov/emergencymanagement/esu/default.shtm

Like other state and local officials, Guthrie is urging Floridians in low-level areas, trailer and manufactured homes, to follow mandatory evacuation orders.

7:36 PM | Bonita Springs declares state of emergency

The city of Bonita Springs joined the chorus of other governments in the region Monday in declaring a state of emergency, ahead of the potential threat from Hurricane Ian.

The declaration helps in responding to issues more quickly, such as procurement processes, receiving recovery funds and making decisions that can be later officially ratified, officials said.

"Hurricane Ian poses a serious threat to the lives and property of residents of the city of Bonita Springs," the city said in a statement.  "Forecasting specific to Lee County indicates a strong likelihood of significant impact. Hurricane Ian has the potential for causing extensive flooding and potential wind and water damage to public utilities, public buildings, public communication systems (and) public streets and roads."

The Estero Village Council is expected to follow suit in a special meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. The gathering is scheduled for Village Hall, 9401 Corkscrew Palms Circle.

7:00 PM | Cape Coral's city hall closed Tuesday, Wednesday

Cape Coral city hall, along with several parks and recreation city facilities will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to hurricane Ian's forecasted impact.

Waste Pro, the city's waste hauling service, will continue trash collection pick up on Tuesday. However, changing weather conditions could change service.

The city also urges residents to not put out bulk items until the storm has passed as they could become projectiles.

The following will be closed on Tuesday, Sept. 27, and Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022:

  • Lee County schools and Cape Coral charter schools will be closed

  • The Yacht Club Community Park and Pool will be closed

  • Coral Oaks Golf Course will be closed

  • Parks administrative offices and recreation facilities will be closed.

  • The Skate Park will be closed.

The 311 call center will remain open, but water account services will be closed.

Cape Coral residents can their pay water bills online at www.capecoral.gov by going to the "Pay Water Bill" section of the homepage.

6:20 PM | Sanibel issues local emergency and voluntary evacuation

The City of Sanibel has declared a local emergency and a voluntary evacuation as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida's western coastline.

The city council unanimously approved the measure at a special meeting on Monday evening.

"We are not telling you to go right now, but we are telling you that your safety is our biggest concern," Mayor Holly Smith said.

The emergency declaration authorizes the city to take immediate safety measures and will help Sanibel obtain federal reimbursement of storm response costs, Smith said at the meeting.

Lee and Collier counties have also declared states of emergency, though so far neither has issued county-wide evacuation orders. Sanibel officials said they expect to learn whether there will be a mandatory evacuation in Lee County by 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

The causeway connecting Sanibel to the mainland is unsafe to travel once sustained winds exceed 40 mph, according to Lee County Emergency Management. Officials at the Sanibel council meeting on Monday said they are not expecting tropical storm-force winds until Tuesday evening.

More: Tampa hurricane in 1921: Did you know?

In a Monday letter to residents, City Manager Dana Souza said the storm is projected to track west of the island, but that its trajectory could shift. And Ian could cause a dangerous storm surge even if it does not directly strike Lee County, Souza wrote.

"While I want to be optimistic the storm will track well to the west of Sanibel, residents who lived on the island during Hurricane Charley know all too well how quickly a hurricane can change course, defying all the predictions and forecasts," Souza wrote.

Sanibel and Captiva islands experienced a 7-foot storm surge and suffered severe damage during Hurricane Charley in 2004.

5:27 PM | Storm Surge warning issued for parts of coastal SWFL

A storm surge warning is in effect for parts of coastal Southwest Florida as Hurricane Ian moves toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Lee County is under a tropical storm warning as of the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane experts say the storm will makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and grow into a Category 3 or stronger storm over the next few days.

WHAT IS STORM SURGE?

More: Hurricane watch: Where you can get sandbags in Naples, Fort Myers region as Ian threatens

Lee County is right on the edge of the cone of uncertainty, and areas northward to the Big Bend are under hurricane warnings.

Hurricane Ian is expected to have major impacts to the West Coast of Florida, with impacts ranging from flooding and storm surge to high wind speeds.

Ian could turn into a slow-moving storm that could possibly churn in the Gulf of Mexico for days, dropping a foot or more of rain in isolated areas.

5:09 PM | Hurricane Ian now a Category 2 storm

Tropics Watch updated. Ian is a Category 2 storm now, with 100 mph winds. And the path has bumped a little more to the east.

4:09 PM | Cape Coral residents are in prep mode

Our Cape Coral reporter Luis Zambrano took the temperature of residents and business owners today as they mad preparations for the possible impact from Hurricane Ian.

Here's what they had to say.

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

4:01 PM | Florida Power & Light mobilizing

Florida Power & Light Company has activated its emergency plan to respond to Hurricane Ian as it prepares to strike the west coast of Florida.

The electric company is putting together teams to be dispatched to locations around the state to respond as quickly as possible to power outages while also urging residents to get ready for the storm.

“We recognize the uncertainty in the forecast track and projected strength of (Hurricane) Ian may make many of our customers uneasy and a bit anxious, and we want them to know that we are preparing, and we will be ready to respond,” Eric Silagy, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “We have activated our emergency response plan in anticipation of the storm’s impact on our service area.”

3:33 PM | Here's the latest on the sandbags situation in SWFL

Sandbags can be a difference maker when it comes to floods and storm surge. Here is the latest on what different communities in SWFL are offering this afternoon with new information just coming in for Collier County:

READ THE STORY

3:00 PM | What is rapid intensification?

One of our colleagues at USA TODAY, weather expert Doyle Rice, put together this story that takes a closer look at what rapid intensification means when it comes to Hurricane Ian.

HERE IS THE STORY

2:53 PM | Business as usual for Lee Health

Lee Health is under normal operating conditions at its hospitals and outpatient centers.

The incident management team has been activated for the publicly-operated hospital system in Lee County is monitoring the progress of Hurricane Ian and its potential impact to Southwest Florida.

2:50 PM | FGCU cancels classes for Tuesday, Wednesday

Florida Gulf Coast University is the latest school to announce closings for Tuesday and Wednesday

Lee and Collier public schools already reported schools would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Charlotte County public schools have also cancelled school for Tuesday and a meeting was planned for noon to discuss the rest of the week.

Here is the full story.

2:32 PM | Evacuation maps/routes for Lee and Collier counties

LEE COUNTY

COLLIER COUNTY

Check the Lee and Collier government updates for more information regarding evacuation plans, should they be needed and shelters.

2:05 PM |Fort Myers Beach declares state of emergency

The Town of Fort Myers Beach has declared a local state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Ian's expected landfall this week.

The council on Monday morning unanimously approved the measure, which allows municipalities to expedite spending and public works projects to respond to hurricanes and other disasters.

1:41 PM | Lee County School will close

Lee County is the latest public school district to announce school closing for Tuesday. Collier County public schools announced earlier Monday school would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Charlotte County public schools have already cancelled school for Tuesday and a meeting was planned for noon to discuss the rest of the week.

 1:08 PM | What has been cancelled in Lee and Collier counties due to Ian?

Our features staff is busy keeping up with cancellations across our two counties in Southwest Florida. They are starting to come in fast and furious so keep checking back here for the latest:

LEE COUNTY

COLLIER COUNTY

12:49 PM | FYI, Collier County Sheriff

From the Collier County Sheriff's Office:

Do you have storm-related questions? Collier County Government’s 3-1-1 phone line is currently staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, if you need sandbags please call the county at 239-252-8924.

12:33 PM | Cape Coral Animal Shelter addresses pets and impending storm

The Cape Coral Animal Shelter is offering free wire crates and carriers to keep Cape Coral residents' pets safe at home or when evacuating In preparation for Hurricane Ian.

Free cat and dog food will be offered to those in need.

Crates, carriers, and food will be available as follows:

  • Monday, September 26 from noon to 4 p.m.

  • Tuesday, September 27 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The shelter is located at 325 SW 2nd Avenue, Cape Coral, FL  33991.  The organizers ask that residents come to the side door entrance toward Sunsplash, to the door marked "donations."

Supplies are limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We are so fortunate that the community supports our shelter in so many ways,” said Liz McCauley, executive director, in a news release. “We hope that helping our residents protect their animals during the storm will ease their mind and help them focus on keeping their entire family safe, including their pets.”

For more information, got to www.capecoralanimalshelter.com.

12:14 PM | Gov. DeSantis Hurricane Ian briefing highlight: Take caution when using generators

At Tuesday’s Hurricane Ian briefing, Gov. Ron DeSantis cautioned Floridians about using portable generators, saying more people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning than from hurricanes because they failed to keep the generators outside their homes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 70 consumers die annually year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by portable generators.

“Poisonous carbon monoxide from a portable generator can kill you and your family in minutes.  CO is an invisible killer,” says the commission.

The commission strongly advises those using portable generators operate them at least 20 feet from their home and direct the exhaust away from the home. It says generators should never be placed inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed, or on the porch.

11:59 AM | Collier County postpones school for Tuesday

According to our education reporter Nikki Ross,  Charlotte County School District has cancelled school for Tuesday and is meeting at noon today to plan the rest of the week. Check back here for updates.

More: Collier public schools to close Tuesday/Wednesday, Lee schools, FGCU undecided ahead of Hurricane Ian

11:26 AM | Lee County declares State of Emergency in advance of Ian

As hurricane Ian begins its churn into the Gulf of Mexico, Lee County officials have declared a state of local emergency.

The declaration of emergency was made "because of the increased intensity of the storm and its current forecasted track and potential storm and rainfall," according to a Lee County news release

Declaring a state of local emergency does not open shelters and does not alter county operations. It lays the groundwork for emergency procurement of supplies and equipment.

11:10 AM | NHC issues 11AM advisory for Hurricane Ian

As of the Sept. 26, 11 a.m. update, Lee County is under a tropical storm watch, with areas well north of the Caloosahatchee River still within the cone of uncertainty.

The storm should be off the coast of the Fort Myers-Naples area on Wednesday before moving further north in the Gulf.

Hurricane Ian is expected to plow across Cuba Tuesday before emerging in the relatively warm Gulf of Mexico.

From there the storm is likely too travel north-northwest and make landfall between Tampa Bay and the Big Bend area, according to National Hurricane Center forecasts.

Ian could become a major (Category 3 or higher) hurricane before it makes landfall.

Some models call for it to stall in the Gulf of Mexico for upwards of a day before eye moves onto land.

Several west coast counties have already declared a state of emergency.

Ian is expected to be the first major hurricane to hit the west coast of Florida since Hurricane Irma (2017).

11:05 AM | What's the latest of gas prices and supply?

Check out this story about how gas prices are getting lower, but also so is the gasoline supply in Florida from our sister paper the Tallahassee Democrat.

More: Tropical Storm Ian: Weather Channel announces Jim Cantore's location

11:01 AM | Cape Coral mayor appears on CNN

Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter appeared on CNN Sunday and said the city is "preparing for the worst, hoping for the best."

The city of Cape Coral posted the interview video on its Facebook page.

According to Gunter, the city's emergency operation center has been activated, and staff monitors the situation and watches for winds and storm surges.

In the interview, Gunter said the city will communicate to the residents how prepared they need to be and what threat the storm poses to them.

He said the city is supplied with bottled water, plywood, and sandbags, but the city might need relief depending on the severity of the storm.

"If we do have a substantial hurricane hit our city, as far as a direct hit, then we will probably need more of those supplies, and that's when we would reach out to our state and federal agencies to make sure that we have what we need to the residents of our city," Gunter told CNN.

10:41 AM | What are schools and colleges saying regarding their status?

Collier County School District

School operations in the district remain as planned Monday with students who were already off school for a teacher Professional Development Day. The district is monitoring the storm and will provide another update sometime on Monday. The latest information can be found on the website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lee County School District

Schools are open Monday as normal. The school district said it will continue to monitor the storm and update families regularly with emails, phones calls, text messages, messages on its website and posts on its Facebook page.

Florida Gulf Coast University

FGCU classes are as scheduled Monday. The university will provide another update after 2 p.m. Monday. It will provide updates on its website. You can also find updates on Twitter.

9:55 AM | Explaining watches, warnings and surge

Do you know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning? What about when the National Hurricane Center announced an area like Southwest Florida is under a surge watch, which it is as of this morning?

FIND THE EXPLAINATION HERE

8:10 AM | The latest from the NHC

Southwest Florida is under a Tropical Storm watch as Hurricane Ian continues to track toward Florida.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the center of Hurricane Ian is moving toward the northwest near 14 mph (22 km/h). A turn toward the north-northwest is expected later today, followed by a northward motion on Tuesday with a slightly slower forward speed.

A turn toward the north-northeast is forecast on Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to pass near or west of the Cayman Islands today, and near or over western Cuba tonight and early Tuesday.

Ian will then emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday.

7:49 AM | Important links with local emergency information

Here are some links for easy reference in case you need to find information provided by the Lee and Collier emergency management teams:

COLLIER COUNTY

Website

Q&A with Collier emergency manager

LEE COUNTY

Website

Q&A with Lee County public safety director

7:34 AM | List of hurricane shelters in SWFL

Depending on the track and intensity and proximity of Hurricane Ian, there is a chance that officials in Lee County and Collier County will need to open shelters in the region for residents who have no where to go when and if a hurricane hits Southwest Florida.

Florida's hurricane hotspots: Data says these 3 places are most vulnerable

Looking back at Hurricane Irma: Hurricane Irma 5th anniversary: Five unforgettable photo galleries

Here are the list of shelters for Lee and Collier counties:

LEE COUNTY

COLLIER COUNTY

Check the county web sites for updates on shelters, evacuations and other information. We will be posting important information that is released in this blog.

LEE COUNTY WEB SITE

COLLIER COUNTY WEB SITE

7:30 AM | Where you can find sandbags in SWFL

Several communities — but not all — are offering sandbags to residents in case there is a need to deal with flooding and storm surge from Hurricane Ian.

Here is a link with more information:

WHERE YOU CAN GET SANDBAGS: Find out here who is offering/not offering sandbags

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hurricane Ian Updates: Naples, Fort Myers under tropical storm watch