Hurricane Ian, which has strengthened into a Category 3 storm, is anticipated to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday, with severe weather already affecting parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) and National Hurricane Center (NHC).
A hurricane warning is in effect for southwestern Florida communities ranging from the Fort Myers area to Tampa Bay, per the NHC. The storm has left nearly 1 million residents of western Cuba without power and caused flooding in the Florida Keys as of Tuesday morning.
As Hurricane Ian travels across the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida, the storm is expected to strengthen. "Ian is forecast to approach the west coast of Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane," according to an NHC bulletin.
Organizations and communities within the storm's path should ensure they have completed preparations for Hurricane Ian's landfall by Wednesday morning, according to Mike Venske, Meterologist and Director of Client Services – Weather Insights at StormGeo, Inc.
"Conditions will start deteriorating on Wednesday with heavy rain, strong winds, and even a preliminary storm surge approaching; therefore, preparations should be completed by Wednesday morning at the latest (boarding up windows, securing outdoor equipment, etc.). The state will feel the brunt of the storm late Wednesday and throughout the day on Thursday up to, through and just beyond the official landfall," Venske said.
In addition to boarding up windows and securing outdoor assets, organizations should take additional steps to ensure their employees have access to safe shelter and necessities during Hurricane Ian. When it comes to hurricane preparedness, establishing an emergency plan in advance is key. Defining an organization's risk level, planning severe weather mitigation measures and testing the hurricane preparedness plan ahead of a major storm can help organizations keep their employees and other stakeholders safe.
The lack of a pre-established hurricane response plan that secures both organizational facilities and the assets of employees "can result in many necessary actions being overlooked, placing future operations in danger and possibly affecting the safety of the employees," said Venske. "A business is only as successful as the effectiveness of its employees. Employees will only be effective if their personal preparations to their family and home are completed, providing them a sense of security and the ability to focus on the work at hand."