Officials are warning thousands of people living aboard boats to find safety on land before Hurricane Ian throttles the state, according to WPLG. The Category 3 storm may strengthen before it directly hits Central and Southwest Florida, but its presence will also fling heavy rain, strong winds, and dangerous swells of water toward South Florida.
King tides will also make flooding and storm surge more dangerous when the hurricane strikes the Sunshine State Wednesday (September 28), meteorologists say. This makes conditions particularly scary for liveaboards, who live on small yachts, powerboats, and sailboats throughout the Florida Keys, according to reporters.
“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time, Casey Jackson, who lives on a boat in Key West, told reporters. "Tomorrow is the highest king tide that we are supposed to have this month. This whole dock will be underwater I would imagine."
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jason Ingram of Port Key West has a simple and important message for liveaboards: “Don’t stay out in the water! If you can get back to town, stay in town for these couple of days."
Several Florida counties have mandatory evacuation orders active, and officials urge residents to seek shelter further inland. Anybody living in mobile homes, RVs, or manufactured homes must leave no matter what.
Ian slammed Cuba Tuesday morning (September 27), and experts predict the hurricane will strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico before it reaches Florida. Maximum sustained winds were up to 120 mph as of 2 p.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Ian is expected to drop 6 to 12 inches in central to west Florida, 4 to 8 inches to the rest of the peninsula, and 4 to 6 inches to the Keys through Thursday (September 29).