Pinellas County orders mandatory evacuations
Pinellas County has issued a mandatory evacuation order today for residents living in low-lying areas due to “possible life-threatening storm surge,” according to a news release.
The mandatory evacuation affects 338,000 people and goes into effect tonight at 7 p.m. for those living in Zone A, or the red areas highlighted on this map, which are mostly located on the outskirts of the area.
The evacuation also includes all those who live in mobile homes and residential healthcare facilities in Zone A, which will begin evacuation at 1 p.m. today.
Residents are encouraged to evacuate inland beyond Zone B.
Tampa International Airport to close ahead of Idalia
Tampa International Airport will close early tomorrow morning ahead of Idalia, which is expected to hit Florida this week as a category 3 hurricane, officials said.
The airport will suspend all commercial operations starting 12:01 a.m. and anticipates reopening on Thursday morning “with damage assessments beginning after the storm passes,” according to a news release.
“The closure will allow the Airport and its partners to prepare the airfield and terminals, including the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment and any remaining aircraft before Idalia’s expected landfall early Wednesday as a potential major hurricane,” the statement read. “Some cargo and private aircraft operations could continue overnight, but all air traffic will cease by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.”
Idalia to have ‘major impact’ on Florida, DeSantis warns
Hurricane watches are in effect along the Gulf Coast from Sarasota County all the way north to Franklin County, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Monday morning news briefing.
“So, this is going to be a major impact and Floridians should expect that this storm will be a major category three plus hurricane, so please prepare accordingly,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said the storm is expected to impact the areas between the north of Tampa all the way to Tallahassee, but warned residents elsewhere can still be impacted.
“So, pretty much anybody on the west coast of Florida, I mean, you can see major, major impacts and so please prepare accordingly,” he said.
Florida residents ordered to evacuate should be prepared to get to higher ground, DeSantis said, adding that it’s not necessary to travel hundreds of miles or leave the state.
“This is going to be a major hurricane, this is going to be a powerful hurricane,” said DeSantis. “And this is absolutely going to impact the state of Florida in many, many different ways. So please, please heed the directives from your local officials, please make the appropriate accommodations and take the appropriate precautions.”