Mayor Jane Castor warned Tampa residents of the storm and urged them to exercise caution throughout Wednesday.
While Tampa residents don’t typically experience high tides, they should expect them this Wednesday, he said.
“We have to see the tide coming in, so nobody wakes up, looks at blue skies and thinks we’re done with an Italia. That’s not the case,” Castor said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Storm surge was the most important element Wednesday, Castor said.
While the predictable cone has turned in Tampa’s favor, history has shown it’s not always reliable, Caster said of Hurricanes Charley and Ian.
Zone A of Tampa has evacuation orders in place, so he encouraged everyone in those areas to leave. “So please understand that Mother Nature will always win. So if you have the chance to leave, you can, and you should. Please, please,” he said.
Residents don’t need to leave the state, but can travel 10 to 20 miles inland and stay away from low-lying areas, Castor said.
Italia is forecast to make landfall as a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger), causing storm surge in the Tampa Bay area.
The city of Tampa is located in Hillsborough County. Officials have declared a local state of emergency amid possible damage from Italy.
More on storm surge: “A storm surge is an increase in water levels caused by a storm’s strong winds pushing water ashore,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. “The wind actually picks up water from the ocean and pushes it onto the land.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, storm surge accounts for nearly half of hurricane-related deaths.
Storm surges can also increase flooding. Accumulation of water along coastlines can block rivers and streams that normally flow into the sea upstream, raising water levels.
CNN’s Steve Almasi and Tagin Anton reported for this publication.