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WUSF is part of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, which provides up-to-the minute weather and news reports during severe weather events on radio, online and on social media for 13 Florida Public Media stations. It’s available on WUSF 89.7 FM, online at WUSFNews.org and through the free Florida Storms app, which provides geotargeted live forecasts, information about evacuation routes and shelters, and live local radio streams.

Wednesday's Latest On Eta: School Closings, Shelters And Updates Across Tampa Bay

Eta satellite image
NOAA

Here is the latest as Hurricane Eta approaches Florida's west coast.

We are following the latest updates across the greater Tampa Bay region:

THURSDAY'S LATEST: Updates On School Closings And More

Schools Closing Across Tampa Bay

Several school districts across the greater Tampa Bay region have announced early dismissals on Wednesday and closings on Thursday. Here is a list.

Tampa, Sarasota Airports Suspends Operations

Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday due to strong winds from Eta.

All passengers should check with their airlines for flight status updates. The airport, including the Main Terminal and parking garages, will be closed to all visitors at that time.

All operations are expected to resume Thursday by noon, but could reopen earlier.

To get the latest operational updates, please follow @FlyTPA on Twitter.

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport also announced it is shutting down airport operations from Wednesday at 4 p.m. through Thursday morning at 6 a.m. Call your airline for the latest flight status.

FORECAST: Latest On Eta's Track As It Approaches Florida's West Coast

DeSantis Expands State Of Emergency

Pointing to the “erratic nature” of the storm as it threatened a large part of Florida’s west coast, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday expanded a state of emergency and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration as Tropical Storm Eta prepared to make landfall Thursday.

He issued the expanded order after South Florida was devastated by heavy rains and flooding from Tropical Storm Eta.

With the forecast Wednesday for the storm to hit the west coast and cross the state, DeSantis expanded the executive order to include Alachua, Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hernando, Hillsborough, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and Sumter Counties. In the request to President Donald Trump, which could bring federal financial assistance to Florida, DeSantis said some counties also had declared local states of emergency.

USF Closing All Campuses

The University of South Florida is closing all of its campuses starting Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. through Thursday.

All classes will be delivered remotely on Thursday.

University operations are expected to continue remotely, and all employees who can work remotely should continue to do so.

Saint Leo University To Hold Zoom Classes

Saint Leo University will hold classes for its campus students via Zoom on Thursday. University leadership is monitoring Tropical Storm Eta and will decide on Thursday about whether evening classes at its education centers will be held in-person.

Voluntary Evacuations In Manatee County

A voluntary evacuation notice has been issued for residents of Anna Maria Island and other low-lying, flood-prone areas due to the expected storm surge. Tropical storm winds are most likely to arrive Wednesday by 2 p.m. and last into the night.

Sunshine Skyway, Courtney Campbell Causeway Closed

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday due to high winds, while the Florida Highway Patrol closed the Courtney Campbell Causeway just after 10:30 p.m. due to water over the roadway.

Voluntary Evacuations In Hernando County

Voluntary evacuations have been issued for coastal zone A and mobile homes in Hernando County.

Residents are advised to seek safe shelter with family or friends that reside in a safe structure.

A pet-friendly shelter will open at 2 p.m. at the Hernando Mining Association Enrichment Center, 800 John Gary Grubbs Boulevard in Brooksville.

Emergency Shelters In Pinellas

No evacuations have been issued for Pinellas County, but two emergency shelters are now open:

  • Lealman Exchange (Pet Friendly), 5175 45th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714
  • Ross Norton Community Center,1426 S M.L.K. Jr Ave, Clearwater, FL 33756

Shelters Open In Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County has issued a state of emergency, and while no evacuations have been issued, the county opened five emergency shelters Wednesday at 1 p.m.

However, two of them closed Wednesday evening because of low demand.

The shelters are intended for residents who are dependent on electricity for home medical needs, or who live in homes and manufactured housing that are susceptible to wind damage. Wherever possible, residents should consider other alternatives to a public shelter, such as staying with friends, family, or in a hotel.

Anyone needing transportation to a shelter should call (813) 272-5900.

The shelters that remain open as of 10 p.m. Wednesday:

  • Burnett Middle School (pet-friendly), 1010 N. Kingsway Road
  • Middleton High School, 4801 N. 22nd St.
  • Sickles High School (pet-friendly) and Family Shelter, 7950 Gunn Highway

Southwest Florida Water Management District Closing Campgrounds

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will close all District-managed campgrounds and properties to include trails and day use areas throughout its 16-county region at 3 p.m. Wednesday in anticipation of impacts from Hurricane Eta.

The District will plan to reopen the campgrounds at 8 a.m. Friday unless otherwise indicated.

Bus Service Suspended

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority are suspending all bus routes beginning Wednesday at noon. This also affects the TECO Line Streetcar and HART SMART AV service. HART says it is preparing to restart all services Thursday at noon.

Courthouses Closed

All courthouses in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which comprises Pinellas and Pasco counties, will be closed Thursday. All hearings expected to be held via teleconferencing or Zoom are also cancelled, but advisories, along with juvenile detention and shelter hearings, will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the County Justice Center in Clearwater, and the West Pasco Judicial Center in New Port Richey.

The Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit has advised that all court hearings will continue as scheduled for Thursday. However, operational services of the Clerk's office will be closed at all three locations in accordance with Citrus County Government and will reopen on Friday morning at 8 a.m.

Hillsborough County Government Offices Closing
Hillsborough County has postponed the Board of County Commissioners meeting scheduled for Thursday. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 16.

Additionally, all County facilities will be closed Thursday.

COVD-19 Testing Sites Closing

Hillsborough County:
All Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County offices, along with coronavirus public test sites will be closed Thursday due to Eta. They plan to resume normal operations on Friday.

Pasco County:
The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County and BayCare COVID-19 testing and flu vaccination site at Gulfview Square Mall in Port Richey will be closed Thursday due to Eta. The health department will remain open.

Pinellas County:
All Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County centers will be closed for services Thursday.

The drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Tropicana Field did not open Wednesday due to anticipated high winds associated with Tropical Storm Eta.

Citrus County:
The Florida Department of Health in Citrus County will be closed for services on Thursday due to Tropical Storm Eta precautions. Normal hours and services are planned to resume on Friday, including COVID-19 testing at the Citrus Springs Community Center, weather permitting.

Sandbags Available Across The Area

Pasco County:

The county now has four, self-serve sandbag stations open 24 hours:

  • Pasco County Public Works (C-Barn): 30908 Warder Road, San Antonio
  • Magnolia Valley Golf Course: 7223 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey
  • Pasco Fire Rescue Station 17: 2951 Seven Springs Blvd., New Port Richey
  • Veterans Memorial Park: 14333 Hicks Road, Hudson

The locations are open for Pasco County residents. You should bring a shovel and be prepared to fill your own sandbags.

Manatee County:

  • Coquina Beach: 2656 Gulf Drive S
  • Manatee Beach: 4000 Gulf Drive
  • Anna Maria: Bayfront Park, 316 North Bay Blvd. (self service)
  • City of Bradenton (residents only, proof of residence required): 1411 9th St. W (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Holmes Beach: City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive (self service)
  • Longboat Key: Broadway Beach Access (self-service)

Hernando County:

  • Linda Pedersen Park, 6300 Shoal Line Boulevard near Hernando Beach. (self-serve)

Pinellas County:
Pinellas County is not currently distributing sand bags. Residents should check with their local municipality for local sand bag sites.

Pinellas Park:

  • Helen Howarth Equestrian area
  • Broderick Recreation Center
  • Pinebrook Park
  • A premade sandbag location will be at Forbes Recreation Center.

Gulfport:

  • 49th Street Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th Street S. There is a 10-bag limit and proof of residency may be required.