TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — People around the Tampa Bay area have either evacuated or are now taking cover as Hurricane Ian closes in on Florida’s west coast as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane.
WFLA has crews stationed around the area, safely monitoring conditions as the storm gets closer. Here are the latest updates as we track Ian (most recent updates will appear at top, all time are EDT):
Sarasota County, 6:50 a.m. Wednesday
Conditions are deteriorating quickly in Sarasota County. Jack Royer says rain bands are moving through North Port and winds are picking up. Power went out in the plaza he’s at while he was live on air.
Beth Rousseau says the rain has stayed consistent all morning in downtown Sarasota but wind has started to pick up. She says she’s seeing more debris being blown around as conditions worsen.
Bradenton, 6:30 a.m. Wednesday
WFLA’s Annie Mapp says rain has been consistent all Wednesday morning in Bradenton but winds have really started to pick up.
Ruskin, 5:54 a.m. Wednesday
Conditions were deteriorating in southern Hillsborough County Wednesday morning. Shannon Behnken saw rain picking up and swells coming through at a mobile home park in Ruskin, where many people have evacuated.
“You’re starting to really notice that change in the weather,” she said.
Lakeland, 5:45 a.m. Wednesday
Walt Buteau was live Wednesday morning outside one of the 20 shelters set up in Polk County.
Emergency officials are asking people to try and find a friend or relative to stay with to shelter from the storm to avoid crowding and relieve stress on the county shelters.
Elfers, 5:15 a.m. Wednesday
Elfers is one of the areas in Pasco County that’s known for flooding. Xavier Harris saw very little activity at one of the community’s mobile home parks – signaling that people there are taking this seriously.
John’s Pass, 5 a.m. Wednesday
Businesses in John’s Pass in Pinellas County are bracing for Ian and taking it seriously because of how familiar they are with flooding and storms.
Brittany Mueller says many businesses are boarded up and have put plastic and sandbags outside their doors.
Sarasota, 5 a.m. Wednesday
WFLA’s Beth Rousseau says it’s rainy and windy in downtown Sarasota as conditions begin to deteriorate from Hurricane Ian.
Some stores have boarded up with sandbags in front of their doors and hurricane shutters on their windows.
North Port, 5 a.m. Wednesday
WFLA’s Jack Royer says hotels in North Port are completely full and gas stations are closed with pumps wrapped up.
“This town is hunkered down as best as we can tell,” Royer said.
Tracking Hurricane Ian