Florida's Gulf Coast Battens Down ahead of Ian

 - September 27, 2022, 1:02 PM
Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall on Florida's west coast on Wednesday. The storm is classified as a Category 3 in strength and forecasters are expecting it to be at least a Category 1 hurricane when it comes ashore. (Photo: NOAA/NESDIS/STAR)

As the west coast of Florida braces for the arrival of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, local aviation businesses are giving notifications of shutdowns ahead of landfall. The storm is classified as a Category 3 in strength and forecasters are expecting it to be at least a Category 1 hurricane when it comes ashore.

Tampa has been designated an evacuation zone and as of 5 p.m. tonight, Tampa International Airport will suspend operations to allow the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment, and any remaining aircraft ahead of the storm, which is expected to lash the area with high winds, rain, and storm surge. The airport authority noted that it will begin damage assessments as soon as it is deemed safe to do so and will coordinate its reopening based on roadway safety, facility readiness, and staffing.

Sheltair, which operates an FBO on the field, will close it at that time as well to prepare for the safety of its employees, customers, and aircraft. The Florida-based service provider announced earlier today that it shuttered its St. Petersburg locations, including St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (KPIE) and Albert Whitted Airport (KSPG), and added that its facilities in Orlando and Melbourne will close on Wednesday at noon and 2 p.m. respectively.

In Fort Myers, Page Field (KFMY) will close its runway at 8 p.m. tonight, at least until Thursday morning. Vincent Wolanin, CEO of Private Sky Aviation Services at Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW) also in Fort Myers, told AIN that as long as air traffic control is routing aircraft to the airport, the FBO will be open.