Local schools to remain closed Friday in wake of Ian

Jungle Trail Scenic Road turns into a "Jungle Cruise" after rainfall from Hurricane Ian - now Tropical Storm Ian - floods much of the road. PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Sept. 29, 2022 11 a.m. Update:

School District of Indian River County schools will remain closed Friday in the wake of Hurricane Ian. All students and staff will return to campuses on Monday, officials said.

“Due to power outages at several of our schools and across our community, all SDIRC schools and buildings will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 30th,” school officials said in a statement.

The campuses in the school district were already closed Wednesday and Thursday as Ian swirled across the state. Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday but regained hurricane strength in the afternoon, forecasters said.

Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane when it slammed into Florida’s southwestern coast early Wednesday. The storm left parts of the west coast – including Naples, Cape Coral and Fort Myers – with heavy damage to homes and massive flooding.

Ian continued to weaken as it passed over Florida overnight. Ian was downgraded to a Category 3, then a Category 1 hurricane late Wednesday.

Ian weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday with 70 mph maximum sustained winds, weather officials said. The storm redeveloped into a hurricane about 5 p.m. after it swirled across the state, re-entered the Atlantic Ocean and headed north toward the Carolinas.

As of 6 p.m., Ian was a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph maximum sustained winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was headed northeast at 10 mph.

Ian brought massive rainfall – along with heavy, howling winds – as its bands moved through central and south Florida, including Indian River County. The storm left some areas flooded in Vero Beach.

The Vero Beach Regional Airport area had 5.59 inches of rainfall since Wednesday, National Weather Service in Melbourne Meteorologist Tim Sedlock said. Surrounding areas in the county had up to 8 inches of rain.

There were no reports of any injuries from the storm for Indian River County, officials said. A tropical storm warning for Vero Beach was no longer in effect as of Thursday evening, emergency services officials said.

Several tornado watches were previously issued for Indian River County, though there were no confirmed tornado sightings, according to forecasters.

Ian left more than 2 million Florida homes and businesses without power as it swept across the state, according to Poweroutage.us. Florida Power & Light Co.’s outage map showed 16,470 customers were without power Thursday evening in Indian River County.

FPL crews were working to restore power outages as soon as possible.

Sept. 28, 2022 8 p.m. Update:

Ian weakened to a Category 3 hurricane late Wednesday, but still remains a major hurricane with 115 mph maximum sustained winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. Ian was downgraded at 7 p.m. after it crawled ashore on Florida’s western coast, National Weather Service in Melbourne Meteorologist Melissa Watson said.

Ian already has impacted Indian River County with heavy rainfall, leaving several streets flooded in Vero Beach. Some flooded streets include eastbound State Road 60 from the railroad tracks to Indian River Boulevard, Miracle Mile and Royal Palm Pointe east of Indian River Boulevard.

The following weather advisories remain in effect for the Vero Beach area:

  • Tropical storm warning until further notice
  • Flood watch until 2 a.m. Friday
  • Tornado watch until 1 a.m. Thursday

Ian was moving northeast at 8 mph, forecasters said. The hurricane left the Florida peninsula with storm surge, heavy winds and flooding.

 

Sept. 28, 2022 11 a.m. Update:

Ian intensified to a Category 4 hurricane overnight, packing 155 maximum sustained winds, weather officials said. Ian strengthened in wind speeds about 5 a.m. Wednesday and was traveling northeast toward the southwestern coast of Florida at 9 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Ian was expected to make landfall and bring tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall to the Treasure Coast Wednesday and Thursday. Indian River County could experience tropical force winds – 39-to-73 mph – as early as Wednesday afternoon, forecasters said.

Several weather advisories from the National Weather Service in Melbourne remain in place for the Vero Beach area:

  • Tropical storm warning until further notice
  • Tornado watch until 5 p.m. Wednesday
  • Flood watch until 2 a.m. Friday

Wednesday and Thursday will have an 80-to-100 percent chance of rain, meteorologists said. Both days will have high temperatures near 85 degrees, which will dip to the mid-70s in the evenings.

Heavy rain left some roadways flooded in Vero Beach Wednesday morning. Those areas include Miracle Mile, eastbound State Road 60 around 10th Avenue near the police department, and Royal Palm Pointe east of Indian River Boulevard.

“The bridges to the barrier island will close if we experience sustained 45 mph winds, and at that time no one will be allowed to cross (even if you are a resident of the barrier island). There will be a separate notification at that time if this occurs,” Vero Beach police officials said. “If you do not have a need to be driving during this storm, please stay home.”

Residents can visit the Indian River County government website for updates on closures.

Sept. 27, 2022 Update:

Weather officials issued a tornado watch Tuesday for several Florida counties, including Indian River, as Hurricane Ian makes its way toward the state. The tornado watch remains in effect until 5 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the area until further notice, weather experts said. A flood watch also will last for Indian River County until 2 a.m. Friday.

Ian remained a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph maximum sustained winds Tuesday. Several residents across the county were seen putting up hurricane shutters on the windows of their homes and stocking up on non-perishable items from area stores.

As of Tuesday night, Ian was moving northeast at 10 mph. The hurricane was expected to bring tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall to the Treasure Coast Wednesday and Thursday, forecasters said.

Indian River County Emergency Services announced the following shelters will open Wednesday at noon:

  • Treasure Coast Elementary: Special Needs Shelter, 8955 85th St, Sebastian, FL
  • Liberty Magnet School: Pet-Friendly Shelter, 6850 81st St #3715, Vero Beach, FL
  • Vero Beach High School Freshman Learning Center, 1507 19th St, Vero Beach, FL

 

Earlier story:

School District of Indian River County officials will close campuses and cancel all extracurricular activities on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Hurricane Ian. A decision will be made at noon Thursday on whether to reopen the schools on Friday, officials said.

Ian, a major hurricane, was expected to push across the state on Thursday. All in school and after school activities for Tuesday will resume as planned, school district officials said.

“All School District of Indian River County employees should not report to work on Wednesday, Sept. 28, or Thursday, Sept. 29,” officials said in a statement. “The Indian River County Emergency Management Department will decide and announce whether shelters will be open for this event. Should shelters open, all impacted employees assigned to serve in shelters will be notified.”

Ian intensified into a major storm overnight as it continues to swirl north toward the Gulf Coast. As of Tuesday, Hurricane Ian had 115 mph maximum sustained winds and was moving north at 10 mph.

The 11 a.m. advisory showed the hurricane’s projected path shift northeast with an impact on the state’s western coastline. Indian River County, which sits on the east coast, was in the forecast cone of the storm as of Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Regardless of the cone, residents should be preparing,” National Weather Service in Melbourne Meteorologist Megan Tollefsan said.

Weather advisories

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Indian River County until further notice, weather officials said. Tropical storm conditions were expected to bring heavy showers Wednesday and Thursday.

Both days will have an 80-to-100 percent chance of storms, forecasters said. A flood watch is also in effect for Indian River County until Friday.

“Residents should finalize preparations today,” weather officials said.

Closings and cancellations

  • School District of Indian River County will close Wednesday and Thursday
  • Indian River State College will close Wednesday and Thursday
  • Indian River County Landfill and Customer Convenience Centers will close Wednesday until further notice
  • Residential garbage, yard waste and recycling services for the county will be suspended on Wednesday until further notice.
  • The City of Vero Beach will suspend solid waste disposal starting Wednesday until further notice
  • More closings can be found here

Preparing for Ian (provided by stateofFlorida.com)

Hurricane Kit:

  • Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
  • Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
  • Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
  • Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
  • Waterproof container with cash and important documents
  • Manual can opener
  • Lighter or matches
  • Books, magazines, games for recreation
  • Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
  • Cooler and ice packs
  • A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated

Securing Your Home:

  • Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
  • Although tape can prevent glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
  • If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
  • Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure and brace internal doors.

Power Outages:

  • Gas: Make sure your tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Most people wait until the last minute, rush to get extra gas for cars and generators, and subsequently gas stations can run out early.
  • ATMS: Have extra cash on hand in the event no ATMS in your area are accessible or working.
  • Cell Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out.
  • A/C: This can be the most uncomfortable side effect of losing power during a storm. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside. If you have back-up or battery operated fans, don’t run them unless you are in the room. Fans create a difference in perceived temperature but do not cool the room; instead they create a cooling effect by dispersing the heat off your skin. It is said they can actually add heat to a room just by running.
  • Water: Fill bathtub and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.
  • Food: Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage. Here is a guide on freezing food: Freezing and Food Safety. Have a cooler with ice packs prepared to cool your drinks and snacks after power has been out for more than 4 hours. And importantly, check out this food safety guide for when to discard your perishable food: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html
  • Health/Safety: The CDC has a great guide on how to stay safe in the event of a power outage: Power Outages

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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