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Hurricane Ian strikes Cuba, Florida braces for Cat 4 damage

  • Hurricane Ian strikes Cuba, Florida braces for Cat 4 damage
    Florida evacuation zones and routes: How to find your evacuation zone ahead of Hurricane Ian Hurricane Ian strikes Cuba, Florida braces for Cat 4 damage
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Florida evacuation zones and routes: How to find your evacuation zone ahead of Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba on Tuesday as a major hurricane, with nothing to stop it from intensifying into a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane before it hits Florida on Wednesday.

Ian made landfall at 4:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said “significant wind and storm surge impacts” were occurring Tuesday morning in western Cuba. Ian sustained top winds of 125 mph (205 kmh) as it moved over the city of Pinar del Rio. As much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge was predicted along Cuba’s coast.

After passing over Cuba, Ian was forecast to strengthen even more over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, reaching top winds of 140 mph (225 kmh) before making landfall again. Tropical storm-force winds were expected in Florida late Tuesday, reaching hurricane force Wednesday morning.

The hurricane center said there’s a 100 percent chance of damaging tropical storm force winds and water along Florida’s west coast, and expanded its hurricane warning, from Bonita Beach north through Tampa Bay to the Anclote River.

Tampa and St. Petersburg could get their first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

“Please treat this storm seriously. It’s the real deal. This is not a drill,” Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Timothy Dudley said Monday at a news conference on storm preparations in Tampa.

HOW TO FIND YOUR EVACUATION ZONE

Visit Florida's Know Your Zone website, and search your address to see which designated evacuation zone you're in, if there is one.

"The best way to be prepared for a hurricane storm surge is to know your evacuation zone and plan your destination and travel routes ahead of time," the website reads.

WHAT TYPE OF EVACUATION ZONES ARE THERE?
Evacuation zones are designated by a letter – from "tropical storm zone" to "Zone L." Those within a tropical storm zone and zone A are considered to be the most vulnerable, according to the website.

No other counties have an F zone, except some in Northeast Florida.

FLORIDA DESIGNATED EVACUATION ZONES
Tropical Storm Zone

Zone A
Zone AB (Monroe)
Zone B
Zone BC (Volusia)
Zone C
Zone D
Zone DE (Volusia)
Zone E
Zone F (Collier, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns)
Zone L (Palm Beach)
Black Creek Main Branch (Clay)
Black Creek North Fork (Clay)
Black Creek South Fork (Clay)
FLORIDA EVACUATION ROUTES
To find your evacuation route, you can also visit the Know Your Zone website. Each county has its own map with each zone's evacuation route.

OCALA-GAINESVILLE AREA
Alachua County
Dixie County
Gilchrist County
Levy County
Marion County
ORLANDO AREA
Brevard County
Flagler County
Lake County
Orange County
Osceola County
Polk County
Seminole County
Sumter County
Volusia County
WHEN SHOULD I EVACUATE?
According to Florida officials, if you live in an evacuation zone and are told to evacuate, you should go. Zone A is considered to be most vulnerable, while Zone F is likely to be evacuated last, according to the website.

Visit Floridadiasater.org for more information.