Former WCTV meteorologist among the millions evacuating Florida gulf coast

Former WCTV Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne is one of millions leaving home for safer ground ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - It’s now or never for folks along the gulf coast, from Tampa south to Fort Myers.

At least 2.5 million people are in evacuation zones as Hurricane Ian inches closer to Florida.

Tampa resident Ray Hawthorne is in that group. He’s a familiar face to long-time WCTV viewers.

The former Channel 6 meteorologist now works for WUSF radio in the Tampa Bay area.

“This will be my first experience with an evacuation order...because now I’m in a more vulnerable location,” he said.

Hawthorne finished preparations Tuesday morning. He’ll ride out the storm several miles inland, at his USF campus office.

”You always prepare for the worst-case scenario and truly you hope for the best,” he said.

And while the First Alert Weather team has reported the storm may strike south of Tampa, Hawthorne knows all too well not to take chances with a storm of this magnitude.

“I would not assume that. I am leaving personally,” he said.

“I’m well aware of the forecast tracks. I’m well aware there can be errors in those tracks even up to the last minute, and so when you have to make a life or death decision, you err on the side of caution.”

For a community not used to a tropical gut punch like the one Ian may be packing, caution is indeed the best course of action.

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