Oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating workers and shutting down offshore platforms as Hurricane Ian barrels towards Florida.
Bloomberg reported Chevron and BP shuttered production at several offshore rigs ahead of the storm:
- Chevron is shutting in the Petronius and Blind Faith oil-production platforms southeast of New Orleans and is evacuating all personnel from the platforms.
- BP has shut in production and is evacuating all workers from its Na Kika platform southeast of New Orleans. The company is also shutting production and evacuating personnel from its Thunder Horse platform.
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Hurricane Ian, the fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season, underwent "rapid intensification" in the Caribbean Sea on Monday, with sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Ian is a Category 1 storm about 240 miles southeast of Cuba's western tip. The storm's track and the threat of further intensification are so concerning that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a "state of emergency" for the entire state.
DeSantis activated 5,000 Florida National Guard members and requested 2,000 from surrounding states.
DeSantis said Ian is a menacing hurricane that is 500 miles wide. He said, "Floridians up and down the Gulf Coast should feel the impacts" of the powerful storm.
"This is a really, really big hurricane at this point," the governor said.
AccuWeather warned Ian could strengthen to a Category 4 storm, sustaining winds between 130-156 mph, as it nears Florida's west coast.
Weather models show Ian could make landfall between Florida Panhandle and west-central Florida mid/late week.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor ordered mandatory evacuations for parts of her region:
"We are asking everyone to go ahead and make those plans to leave from the Zone A, which basically is all the waterfront. We have about 126 miles of waterfront just in our city alone ... You don't have to evacuate far. You just need to get away from the water," Castor told CNN.
12z #GFS forecasting a potentially disastrous outcome for areas around #TampaBay #StPetersburg #Florida. Stalling was always expected with #HurricaneIan but 42+ hrs of cat 2 winds and onshore flow is not what we want to see. #surge and #flooding impacts would be mind boggling. https://t.co/V2cy6szHg0 pic.twitter.com/3J2NhV5unE— Kieran Bhatia (@KieranBhatia) September 26, 2022
Castor's primary concern is a 10-15 feet storm surge that could result in inland flooding.
Effective 6 p.m. today, all residents in Evacuation Zone A (including all mobile home residents) will be under mandatory evacuation orders. Mandatory orders for evacuation zones B and C will be effective tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/36ayoOEMIz— Pinellas County (@PinellasCoNews) September 26, 2022
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch warned: "This could be the storm that we've hoped would never come to our shores."