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Bulloch officials watching Hurricane Ian
Storm’s effects could hit area later this week
Waves kick up under a dark sky along the shore of Batabano, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Hurricane Ian was growing stronger as it approached the western tip of Cuba on a track to hit the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane as early as Wednesday. (
Waves kick up under a dark sky along the shore of Batabano, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Hurricane Ian was growing stronger as it approached the western tip of Cuba on a track to hit the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane as early as Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

If Hurricane Ian stays on its current projected path, Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn expects Bulloch County could begin feeling effects from the storm as early as Thursday evening and possibly lasting into Saturday.

Growing stronger as it approached the western tip of Cuba Monday evening, Ian is on a track to hit the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane on Wednesday.

After hitting Cuba, Ian is forecast to become an even stronger Category 4 hurricane with top winds of 140 mph over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before striking Florida.

“We’ll know a lot more about what we can expect here on Wednesday,” Wynn said. “What we know right now is that we’ll probably see some tropical-storm-like gusty winds, downed trees, some power outages and, depending on the amount of rain, some road issues. I urge area residents to monitor the storm and take any necessary precautions.”

As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service was forecasting tropical storm conditions, which means winds of at least 35 mph, in the Bulloch County area possibly beginning Thursday night and lasting through Friday night.

Hayley Greene, public relations director for Bulloch County Schools, said the school system is “monitoring weather conditions that may affect our area.”

“As more accurate weather predictions become available later this week, we will communicate additional information,” she said.
She said any decisions about postponing extracurricular and athletic events will be decided as the weather forecast becomes clearer.

Georgia Emergency Management officials activated the State Operations Center on Monday in anticipation of Hurricane Ian potentially moving into Georgia.

The hurricane could hit South Georgia late Wednesday night or early Thursday, said Chris Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

Gov. Brian Kemp said some models show the storm could become stationary over Georgia, which would turn it into a major rain event.
“We have our whole team on active duty,” Kemp told reporters Monday afternoon. “We’re going to be proactive, planning ahead.”
Kemp said it’s too soon to determine whether he will declare a state of emergency in all or part of Georgia.
“I’ll use every power I’ve got to prepare for the storm and be ready when it hits,” he said.

 

Danger to Florida

U.S. National Hurricane Center senior specialist Daniel Brown said Ian won't linger over Cuba, but it will slow down over the Gulf of Mexico, growing wider and stronger, "which will have the potential to produce significant wind and storm surge impacts along the west coast of Florida.”

As of Monday, Tampa and St. Petersburg appeared to be among the most likely targets for their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

A surge of up to 10 feet of ocean water and 10 inches of rain were predicted across the Tampa Bay area, with as much as 15 inches in isolated areas. That's enough water to inundate coastal communities.

As many as 300,000 people may be evacuated from low-lying areas in Hillsborough County alone, county administrator Bonnie Wise said. Some of those evacuations were beginning Monday afternoon in the most vulnerable areas, with schools and other locations opening as shelters.

Bob Gualtieri, sheriff of Pinellas County, Florida, which includes St. Petersburg, said in a briefing that although no one will be forced to leave, mandatory evacuation orders are expected to begin Tuesday.

“What it means is, we’re not going to come help you. If you don’t do it, you’re on your own,” Gualtieri said.

Zones to be evacuated include all along Tampa Bay and the rivers that feed it. 

 

The Associated Press and Capitol News Beat contributed to this report.

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