Sunday, September 24, 2023

Hurricane Ian closes schools in Florida


The following is an announcement concerning Hurricane Ian from the Hillsborough County Public Schools, which includes Tampa, Florida:

School Closure Update – Hurricane Ian

Our district has been working closely with the county’s emergency operations center in preparation of Hurricane Ian’s impact on our region. County emergency officials have made the decision to activate many of our schools starting Monday as storm shelters to house community members who will be required to evacuate their homes.

Because of this decision, the district has no choice but to close schools and suspend all after-school programs and extra-curricular activities beginning tomorrow, Monday, September 26, through Thursday, September 29.

Read the rest of the announcement

Many factors are considered when the EOC activates shelters, so even if our area experiences minimal physical effects from the storm, our school district plays a vital role in the EOC’s response. Our school principals coordinate the opening of shelter sites and the utilization of bus drivers for evacuee transport and student nutrition staff for meals for those at the shelters.

There may be a need to make up missed instructional hours to meet minimum state requirements, but we will work with the Florida Department of Education to determine how many hours might be necessary.

I encourage you to stay up to date with local news reports; we will continue to update you through Parentlink emails, texts, and phone calls, as necessary. You can also monitor the impact on schools at and the district’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

We are proud of the role we play in supporting our community in this time of need.

As of this afternoon, forecasters were expecting the storm to track just off the gulf coast of western Florida, but it could still dump between 15 and 20 inches of rain and create a storm surge of several feet in areas near Tampa, including Clearwater and St Petersburg.

Several counties in Florida are under mandatory evacuation orders from emergency agencies. Both Gov Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, clearing the way for state and federal aid to those affected by Hurricane Ian.

The problem is that as of Monday afternoon, Ian is a Category 2 hurricane, and it’s expected to increase in strength as it moves slowly over gulf waters that are 5–10°F warmer than average. That energy can cause rainfall totals to rise and winds to intensify, bolstering the storm surge that could inundate coastal areas.

Hurricane Ian at 2 PM Eastern Time Monday (NOAA/NESDIS/STAR)

A few student newspapers ran warning messages last week while forecasting models were still chewing on data to predict the path. “According to the National Hurricane Center, the … hurricane will arrive in the Gulf of Mexico early next week,” wrote Humberto Alejandro Carralero at Cape Coral High School.

“American models predict it will take a more western turn, while European models predict a more eastern turn. Both models agree that it is highly possible [Ian] will affect Florida.”

At St Stephen’s Episcopal in Bradenton, which is, we regret to report, just across the bay from St Petersburg, probably in the direct path of Hurricane Ian, Julia Craig and Jackson Nealis told their readers to “prepare by arranging extra provisions, clearing loose debris from lawns, and anticipating power outages. … Stay safe out there, Falcons!” they wrote.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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